Yarmouth church provides thousands of meals
Kingsgate Community Church in Great Yarmouth has provided nearly ten thousand meals for the local community during this difficult summer, as well as providing its “Smile at home” activity packs for families. Tony Rothe reports.
The church has been operating a community coffee shop at its premises in the town for many years, but clearly this had to close when the UK’s first national lockdown came into force in March. The church realised that they did still have the ability to provide hot meals to those in need in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, working closely with the other agencies in the area.
Julia Miller, Kingsgate’s community manager said “The lockdown came as quite a shock to most of us, as we had to shut our existing community activities for an indefinite period of time, and we needed to work out what we could do within the new regulations to help support people in need in our community.”
As the months of restrictions carried on, the Kingsgate Kitchen Hot Food Hub was able to produce and distribute over 9,500 freshly cooked hot meals into the community via the Gorleston foodbanks, the Minster Mission in Yarmouth and directly to people’s homes across the area, via referrals from charities and statutory agencies.
One family responded, “Because you have provided us with a meal, we can now put some electricity on the meter”
Another of Kingsgate’s community activities is their SMILE holiday activity club for families in need, which was set up a few years ago. With many struggling families locally, Smile normally provides meals and activities once a week in school holidays, where families can play and eat together.
This opportunity to chat and engage with the community also had to be suspended back in the Spring, but the hot food hub was able to support a number of the families in need in the local area that the church would normally have reached through the holiday club.
Julia explains, “As it was not possible to bring a large number of children and families together in one place, we decided that we would bring something of the spirit of SMILE into the families homes instead and ran five SMILE at Home sessions over the holidays for 20 families, delivering around 65 large hot cooked meals with pudding, cakes and treats for everyone in the household and an activity bag for the children. These have been really well received.”
Some of the comments received are:
‘It’s such a lovely idea to do SMILE at Home and I know my boys love being part of SMILE’
‘The SMILE events have been lovely, they have always left us with a smile because of what you have done.’
‘Thank you for checking up on us all over this time. I should have filmed her when she went through the bag, super excited is an understatement!’
‘Thank you, we love to be involved with SMILE at Home, the kids enjoy the activities, and we enjoy doing them with them. Thank you for the time you have taken to do what you do, we just wanted to say that the family is grateful.’
Julia said “We’ve had lots of positive feedback, but we need to think how this can be developed. As a church, we are committed to making a difference in our local community. We are working with other churches – we do have some amazing churches round here. I’m optimistic – God is doing something different. We keep taking steps forward, finding what will work and trusting God – We are bringing hope to people’s lives.”
Top picture shows the SMILE at Home team co-ordinators, L to R: Julia Miller, Richard Baker - Catering Manager, Sarah Evans who creates the children’s activity bags.