There With You: Stoke Newington restaurant cooking up meals for vulnerable during coronavirus lockdown

The team at Perch N16 with hundreds of prepared meals. Picture: Perch N16

The team at Perch N16 with hundreds of prepared meals. Picture: Perch N16 - Credit: Archant

A former care home mental health worker who opened his first restaurant in January is spending the coronavirus lockdown dishing up thousands of meals for vulnerable people.

Cyclists set to deliver meals for Perch N16. Picture: Perch N16

Cyclists set to deliver meals for Perch N16. Picture: Perch N16 - Credit: Archant

Tom Jackson, owner of Perch N16 in Stoke Newington High Street, was one of the first business owners to shut down when the outbreak started, before he was told to by Boris Johnson.

And having worked in the care sector for a decade, he realised it was going to be hit hard by the lockdown and decided to act. Perch’s Dinner Dash service is now delivering 300 professionally cooked meals, three times a week, to care homes and any vulnerable people who can’t get by.

“We put the message out and didn’t really know what was going to happen,” said Tom. “Within a week we’d been contacted by 40 social workers.”

Some of the places supported include St Mungo’s women’s hostel and Islington People’s Rights. At the start, Tom was funding it himself, but now a crowdfunder has been set up to fund the project. More than £4,000 has already been raised but more is needed.

“The costs aren’t too bad,” said Tom. “But going forward now we can only carry on doing it as long as donations keep coming in. As a business we’re now losing £1,500 a week because of coronavirus, although the government’s £25,000 grant will help pay off some of the debts racking up.

“But as a new business in the area, it’s amazing to see the community spirit in Hackney and Stoke Newington.

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“While this virus has wrecked many lives and been a real spanner in the works for a new business in hospitality, the outpouring of generosity and inner goodness and kindness of people has been eye opening. I sincerely hope life doesn’t completely return to normal once we have won!”

Alice McCreadie, who works for the East London Foundation Trust, heaped praise on Tom for his support. She said: “Tom’s meal service at Perch has been an absolute lifeline for the vulnerable people and unpaid carers I am working with.

“People who are in their 80’s, with underlying health conditions, or in financial crisis have been provided with great quality hot meals on the same day as requested, and continue to be supported by this fantastic service. As an NHS worker, being able to offer my clients daily hot meals from Perch has made a huge difference; I hope this priceless community action receives the support it needs to continue.”

To donate, visit

If you know someone who may need a meal, email

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