A lunch club and food pantry that feeds hundreds of people on the breadline every week can now expand its provisions thanks to help from a local housing association.
St James Lunch Club in Lower Broughton, Salford, dishes out more than 100 free hot meals every week to local people, including the homeless, the elderly and families on low incomes.
The church’s food pantry, which runs alongside the lunch club, provides a further 50 families with 10 essential food items for just £2.50 every week.
The initiative is run from the church hall at St James Church, but until now the volunteers have struggled with a tiny kitchen limiting the number of people they can help.
Now Salix Homes and its partner contractor Emmanuel Whittaker have come to the rescue to upgrade and extend the old kitchen facilities – enabling the lunch club to welcome even more people through its doors.
“The old kitchen was a real struggle to work with – there was only one work surface, the sink was too small and we had no plugs,” said Rev Christine Threlfall, who runs the initiative alongside a team of eight volunteers.
“As you can imagine, it was really difficult cooking Christmas dinner for 40 people who would otherwise be on their own, off a single oven and four rings — it was about as near as impossible as you could get.
“The new kitchen has made a massive difference – we would never turn someone away, but we were really struggling for capacity. Now we can help so many more people, which will have a real impact on people’s physical, emotional and mental health as we can serve more meals and bring more people together.”
The new facilities have also enabled the church to launch cooking classes to teach families how to cook fresh and healthy meals on a budget, using the ingredients available in the food pantry.
Salix Homes has been working alongside Emanuel Whittaker to improve properties across Lower Broughton as part of its multi-million-pound investment to homes and communities across Salford.
“Salix Homes is committed to supporting the communities where we are delivering our home improvement schemes and working with our partner contractors to improve local facilities,” said Ben Cruickshanks, Salix Homes’ neighbourhood manager.
“We’ve been proud to support St James Church with various projects over the years, so when we heard they were struggling with the outdated kitchen facilities, we were more than happy to ask our contractors Emanuel Whittaker to carry out the work.
“The lunch club and food pantry provide a lifeline for the local community, so we hope the new, modern facilities will enable Rev Christine and the volunteers to continue the wonderful work they do.”
John Gallagher, contracts director at Emanuel Whittaker, added: “Emanuel Whittaker supports community and voluntary organisations to grow by channelling additional resources to enable them to build on their ideas and assets to deliver changes within their own neighbourhoods. The community had already made this project a success, so we were more than happy to provide our skills, labour and materials to improve it even further.”
Rev Threlfall added: “We’re a very diverse group, we have young people, older people, some are homeless, some are suffering from mental health issues or isolation. Some people need the food and some people just need the company and someone to talk to, but thanks to the support of Salix Homes and Emanuel Whittaker, we can feed more people and get them through the door.”
Main Image: Rev Christine Threlfall serves up lunch in the new kitchen