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Doctor’s early warnings about Covid-19 helped charity set up free food delivery service

PUBLISHED: 11:20 14 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:20 14 April 2020

Shoreditch Trust has been running programmes, like its stroke project, across Hackney for the last 20 years. Picture: Shoreditch Trust

Shoreditch Trust has been running programmes, like its stroke project, across Hackney for the last 20 years. Picture: Shoreditch Trust

Shoreditch Trust

A charity has transformed its social enterprise restaurant in Haggerston into a vital emergency distribution hub delivering freshly cooked meals to people too poorly to cook or shop for food during the Covid-19 crisis. Donations have helped get the service across London and they are now delivering 200 two course meals a week.

Shoreditch Trust has started distributing 200 meals a week to vulnerable people within its far reaching support network. Picture: Shoreditch TrustShoreditch Trust has started distributing 200 meals a week to vulnerable people within its far reaching support network. Picture: Shoreditch Trust

Shoreditch Trust set up WaterHouse restaurant to train young people, escaping violence, gangs and drugs, as chefs.

But early warnings at the beginning of March about Covid-19 by local GP and charity trustee Jonathan Tomlinson prompted a “mammoth operation” to move 25 support groups, 30 staff and up to 2000 people a year from face to face care to digital and telephone support.

“It’s been the whole organisation changing everything we do overnight,” said the charity’s communications manager Cat Whitehouse.

The warnings also gave Shoreditch Trust and Head Chef Amrit Bhachu a chance to transform its restaurant into a food delivery service for vulnerable people.

Shoreditch Trust's social enterprise WaterHouse restaurant, which trains young chefs, will now distribute healthy meals to people in the community for free. Picture: Shoreditch TrustShoreditch Trust's social enterprise WaterHouse restaurant, which trains young chefs, will now distribute healthy meals to people in the community for free. Picture: Shoreditch Trust

Shoreditch trust, which has worked with residents across Hackney for about 20 years, began to put a pandemic plan into action and started contacting people within it’s far reaching support network.

Charity workers spoke to older residents and those attending cooking groups, stroke recovery and baby support groups to prepare them for the coming pandemic.

Cat told the Gazette: “Now we’ve got files of everybody we work with saying how vulnerable a person is.

We’ve got people like a woman with dementia that normally relies on her daughter who’s now in isolation - so what can she do and what does the mum with dementia do?”

The Shoreditch Trust Elders Feast in 2019. Picture: Shoreditch TrustThe Shoreditch Trust Elders Feast in 2019. Picture: Shoreditch Trust

The charity hopes to ease pressure on the NHS by supporting patients with food supplies, council updates, new service maps and helplines.

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Normally staffed by professional chefs, trainees and a front of house The WaterHouse restaurant will now operate with just one chef and a health and nutrition expert to minimise risk of infection.

Deputy CEO Jaimie Person who has been overseeing the operation said: “Sourcing donations has been humbling – local catering companies who are facing closures and losses themselves rallied for Hackney and donated chest freezers, labels and containers to help us get started. Food redistribution charities are providing some of the ingredients and we’re fundraising for the rest”

Shoreditch Trust is also hoping to get ingredients out to their trainee chefs who are currently self-isolating.

Head Chef Amrit told the Gazette about turning the restaurant into a food distribution hub: “We usually get daily deliveries to WaterHouse, all of our food is freshly prepared every day - the chips, the bread, the moule mariniere - the whole lot. But with ingredients in short supply, we need to take wholesale donations whenever we can and freeze the ingredients to use later.” 

He’s had to get creative with his recipes which rely on generous donations from the public and what’s available.

Shoreditch Trust still needs catering cool boxes, fresh and dry food ingredients, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer and a van to transport food and asks the public to donate if they can. They are also welcoming volunteers.

To donate to their crowdfunder click here.

For more info on Shoreditch Trust and todonate or volunteer visit https://www.shoreditchtrust.org.uk/

Or If you, or someone you know in Hackney or the City needs help during the outbreak of Coronavirus get in touch by email at info@shoreditchtrust.org.uk or call 020 7033 8501 or 020 7033 8587.

To find out more about Waterhouse restaurant click here.

For the latest coronavirus news from Hackney and across London follow our live blog here, visit our corona virus page, or join our Facebook group here.

Or to find more groups, networks and organisations like this in Hackney providing support during the Coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.


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