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There With You: Stoke Newington restaurant raises money to feed NHS workers during Coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 14:44 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:59 31 March 2020

Restaurant owners and Kurdish best friends Cemal Polat and Ali Kalkan have lived in Hackney almost 30 years. They moved to the UK from Turkey due to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict that erupted in the late 1970s.  Picture: Ferhat Elik

Restaurant owners and Kurdish best friends Cemal Polat and Ali Kalkan have lived in Hackney almost 30 years. They moved to the UK from Turkey due to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict that erupted in the late 1970s. Picture: Ferhat Elik

Ferhat Elik

A Stoke Newington restaurant and café plans to use its kitchen to feed NHS workers for free to support them as they save lives on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The restaurants owners plan to feed NHS staff for free during the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Ferhat ElikThe restaurants owners plan to feed NHS staff for free during the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Ferhat Elik

The owners of 215 Hackney - Cemal Polat and Ali Kalkan – are asking the public to support their project by donating to a crowdfunder launched March 23. All money raised will be used to buy ingredients and cook meals to feed NHS staff and people in need.

Cemal told the Gazette: “One of the biggest problems I’ve heard from doctors who have reached out to me is they don’t have time to go out to do shopping.

They don’t have time to panic buy or buy in bulk and after a 12 ,13 or 15 hour shift the last thing they’re going to be thinking about is going shopping and having to cook.”

Cemal is still gathering supplies and hopes to start distributing meals by the end of the week.

Middle-eastern inspired restaurant and cafe 215 Hackney on Stoke Newington High Street is partnered with WarChild UK and before the lockdown gave 20 per cent of its profits to the charity. Picture: Ferhat ElikMiddle-eastern inspired restaurant and cafe 215 Hackney on Stoke Newington High Street is partnered with WarChild UK and before the lockdown gave 20 per cent of its profits to the charity. Picture: Ferhat Elik

People in the area have also volunteered to deliver meals by bike.

“We’re probably going to do deliveries and also be open in the evening just for free food takeaways for NHS badge staff – show your badge, take the food and go,” he said.

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The middle-eastern inspired restaurant has encountered some obstacles in terms of suppliers shutting down and increases in the price of produce but Cemal says: “Whatever hurdle comes we’ll just jump over it.”

There With You. Hackney Gazette.There With You. Hackney Gazette.

The owners want to use the skills and resources they have to help while keeping the kitchen team as small as possible and taking measures to ensure health and safety.

“Something we can’t see has turned the world upside down,” Cemal said.

“We have to help out! I wish I was in a position to do more but the smallest thing I can do is to make food and send it over to front-line staff.”

215 Hackney will be providing updates about their progress and efforts to support NHS Front Line Staff and ask the public to also help by extending their network of NHS staff and people in need.

Contact Cemal by email at cemal@215hackney.co.uk

To donate to 215 Hackney 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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