Near Neighbours projects are developing something of a reputation within Eastern London. Not only are they places where communities are coming together and real relationships are being formed… Great food is also high on the menu for many of them!
This is especially true in Waltham Forest. When a group of Asian ladies decided they wanted to open up their lunch club to a wider group of local residents, they sought support from Near Neighbours and the results have been fantastic.
Waltham Forest Asian Seniors had been meeting for many years and sharing food together. But the volunteers who ran the project wanted to help build better relations in their community. They were soon in touch with Shern Hall Methodist church, who have provided the group with a place to meet and eat together.
Organisers say it’s essential that local people have a good, healthy meal to eat at a very low price. Many of the guests suffer from health problems and are on low-incomes.
Some are also living alone so the weekly sessions are a good chance to come together and form new bonds with those who live in the area. One guest said “We’ve lived in the area for 30 years, but in the last year we’ve really begun to get to know each other.”
Someone who’s been impressed with the work of the group is Mayor of Walthamstow, Richard Sweden. He visited the project recently to declare it formally open and to cut the ribbon, while also sharing some food.
Before he was Mayor, Cllr. Sweden was responsible for health and recreation in the borough and remarked that projects which encourage healthy eating as well as building community are essential to reducing inequality.
The food available when the Mayor was visiting included South Asian cuisine, dishes from the Caribbean, as well as Pasta, sandwiches and other treats.
Around 50 guests were served from many different faiths and backgrounds, with the Pastor of the church joining the Mayor and the project’s founder, Mrs Sabra Syed, in welcoming everyone.
If you live in the area and want to take part, come along every Tuesday.
Listen to the reflections of the Mayor as well as a group of volunteers from the church and the lunch club on why this project has been so well-received.