It is every Thursday that a group of volunteers and homeless individuals at a hostel in Kilburn set out to collect surplus food, which would otherwise go to waste, from local supermarkets. A 3-course meal is then prepared, and afterwards everyone sits down together to enjoy it.
“We share skills inside and out of the kitchen, we laugh together and create a welcoming and friendly environment,” says Hannah Style, FEAST! Founder and Trustee, of the 8-10 volunteers and 25 residents of the hostel who take part in the weekly meal.
By bringing together individuals from a range of backgrounds who are experiencing isolation and social exclusion, FEAST! aims to promote community cohesion and create a sense of belonging whilst preventing food waste and food poverty. They save an estimated 10 crates of fruits and vegetables each week.
Starting as a local volunteer run project operating on zero income, FEAST! now employs a part-time volunteer coordinator, and is a registered charity after gratefully receiving their very first grant of £9,733 from The Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund – Food for London initiative through The London Community Foundation.
Their small, personal, community project roots are important for FEAST! “Our programmes at FEAST! rely on the rapport volunteers have build with the service-users, the residents,” says Hannah. “We can tailor activities to the individuals that attend where perhaps larger charities may not have the capacity to do this.”
And others agree. FEAST! has been nominated for various awards, including the ‘Most Sustainable Project of the Year’ by Mitzvah Day and has built regular partnerships with various local groups and grassroots projects.
Giving those at-risk the opportunity to actively take part and collaborate as equals in their activities is what also makes FEAST! unique and stand out. Hannah tells us this is empowering for the service users and that it “helps to restore their confidence in their ability to socialise.” They have also found that service users have started to collect upcycled Tupperwear, recipes and portions of leftover food for the benefit of other service users who could not be present. “They are actively furthering FEAST! causes, and empowered to give to others, despite not having much themselves,” Hannah proudly explains.
FEAST! is excited about their future as they continue to hone the skills of their dedicated volunteers and will soon utilise the support of a project facilitator who will provide business support, through LCF and the Cranfield Trust.