Coronavirus: fostering unity and togetherness in a time of a global crisis

Halifax homeless and community kitchen is working with major food and beverage companies to supply vulnerable children and families with essentials during the pandemic.

The demand for unity and togetherness resonates now more than ever, as the world faces a pandemic in a digital age. Following the UK government’s guidance on social distancing, an attempt to flatten the curve, the British public remain in their homes for the foreseeable future. Unable to show physical acts of love, kindness and comfort to loved ones, neighbours, friends and strangers alike. While there is little opportunity to show physical acts of love, comfort and kindness in this time of isolation. Community organisations like Halifax homeless and community kitchen (HHCK), are one of the many organisations that are standing out amongst the crowd. HHCK is continuing its mission by demonstrating selfless acts of kindness, in a period where it is easy to adopt a mentality that puts personal survival above anything or anyone else.

HHCK based in Halifax, West Yorkshire now has a total of ten main volunteers, who are deeply committed to sticking together, working together and helping one another. HHCK provides weekly support to thirty vulnerable families and with the surplus food donations it has accumulated from major food companies, this number has now increased to over forty-five. Food donations have allowed HHCK to boost morale within the community during this uncertain time.

Taken from Halifax homeless and community kitchen’s Facebook page

Founder Nicola Freemantle set up HHCK in January 2019. Nicola and volunteer Natalie Mellor share responsibilities which include, maintaining an online presence on Facebook and gaining outreach support.

Nicola, on the day-to-day operations of HHCK said: “Natalie runs the Facebook page. I run the inbox, responding to messages and ordering all the supplies. We both help with outreach support, taking food to schools and families.”

“Liaising with social service and other charities. So, we can network and support each other. We organise the volunteers and make sure safeguarding and health and safety is all up to standard.”

Taken from Halifax homeless and community kitchen’s Facebook page

Together they have coordinated surplus collections provided by food suppliers like McVitie’s, Costa Coffee, Sainsbury’s, Co-op Food’s branch in Rastrick and Tesco’s branch in Queensbury.

Life has changed drastically for the volunteers at HHCK, who are having to adjust to an increased demand for their help during the lockdown.

“We have been so much busier since Covid-19 started. But we have been lucky with our donations. We couldn’t do it without these companies. We have a big following and so these companies have come to us” Nicola said.

“They can see where the donations go. They rang me directly to offer their support and this is just overwhelming.”

Having to change their usual strategy, Nicola and other volunteers deliver essentials like bread, pasta, rice, cereal, fresh fruit and vegetables by dropping bags on family’s doorsteps. Then they let the household know that the items have been delivered.

She added: “We have focused on using our surplus food, love and support, driving around to feed the community and all the kiddies at home. Some organisations are not delivering. So, we have shown how much we care and how much we can do as the voluntary sector.”

“We put it upon ourselves to do what we know someone must do and what is right with a delivery service.”

After recently having to close their Sunday kitchen (which fed sixty to seventy families each week) in response to government guidance on social distancing. HHCK has prioritised its online strategy by using Facebook even more frequently to continue its communication with schools and maintain a rapport with members of the community. With its ties to schools and charities in Halifax, it is abundantly clear that HHCK is a community organisation that places unity and togetherness at the epicenter of its mission.

Nicola said: “We have been working with Mothershare, Calderdale Lighthouse, Healthy Mums and Horton Housing. All to support at risk families during this time. We also have taken in referrals coming in on Messenger.”

HHCK is striving to extend its services to offer mental health support, support for benefits, housing and help for people seeking employment. As well as being a beacon of hope and unity for the people in their community. Nicola hopes that HHCK can secure more funding to provide a base for the organisation.

In order to continue their mission, Nicola has organised a fundraiser through GoFundMe. Support Halifax homeless and community kitchen here: