Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch…

Just before Christmas we told you about the Smethwick in a Stew project, running out of the Dorothy Parkes Centre and that it would be expanded in the New Year. Well, the project has started its trial this week with huge success at the revamped Café in Smethwick Library on the High St with a view to an official ‘lunch launch’ on 5th February with  hot food being served up by the Mayor of Sandwell Cllr Linda Horton

The Project itself is community based, and volunteer led, with assistance and partial funding from Sandwell Council. Leading the project are Bearwood’s own Richard and Marie Marshall.

Richard told the Bearwood Blog ”We heard about the project in early December to feed people over the Christmas period at Dorothy Parkes and felt it was an amazing idea and really wanted to get behind it. However numbers were low which we felt maybe due to its location, so after a chat with Julie at Thimblemill Library we decided to trial it from Smethwick Library. In the first few days with absolutely no advertising, we have fed 100 people. What we really want to do is get the message over that the austerity cuts are hitting many of us hard at the moment, not just the homeless. With our local food banks reporting people bringing back tinned food as they can’t afford to cook it, this is a way that as a community we can help each other to get through these hard times. Just giving up an hour a day is making a huge difference to other peoples lives in our area. In the coming weeks we will be joined by catering students from the QAC’s Coffee Junction which to me will just add to what is already an amazing project”

The project is proposed to run for the rest of the winter months from 1230 to 1330 Monday to Friday it and is hoped to be able to expand to accommodate people that can’t travel down to the Library, utilising sites at West Smethwick Park, St Marks, St HIldas and Bearwood Chapel

”The stew is prepared by staff at Dorothy Parkes and transported down to us at the Library” says Marie Marshall. “We started off serving 17 on the first day and by Friday that was up to an incredible 43. We are starting to see regular faces and its fantastic to realise what a real difference you are making to some people’s lives. They are leaving with a real smile on their face, that one hour having a hot meal with other people or just even a tea or coffee and not having to worry about paying for it is just incredible. We have received loads of offers from people to help out and we would encourage anyone that wants to get involved to contact the blog and leave your details. We know that people are proud and don’t like to ask for help till they’re desperate, well this is your way to get a meal for free and help others at the same time by volunteering. It’s a great atmosphere and we have a laugh and, if your searching for work at the moment it’s also a very useful thing to put on your CV!”

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18 Responses to Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch…

  1. Liz Shea says:

    I would be interested in helping out in any way needed.

  2. ann says:

    praise to the Dorothy parks center manager who gave up her Christmas holiday to trial the Idea!
    Fantastic to see the Bearwood team really pushing the project

    • richard says:

      Totally right Ann, the team at Dorothy Parkes are amazing and Deb is wonderful, the project wouldn’t work without them

  3. Keith Bracey says:

    More power to your collective elbows Richard and Marie Marshall……Brilliant Bearwoodians as usual…….your kind hearts make a real difference to Bearwood and make it a decent place to live in a caring and considerate Community…….Brilliant Bearwood!

  4. richard says:

    Yes Ann the whole team at Dorothy Parkes are brilliant .Deb is fantastic and the project wouldn’t work without them

  5. Keith Bracey says:

    Well I am out of work at the moment Richard…..so you will probably see me…..where and when and at what time do you want me? Cheers Keith Bracey

  6. Sarah says:

    But surely the market economy will save the day for those in need as it always does? …Meanwhile, in the real world / Smethwick, it seems there’s quite a need for this worthwhile initiative. I would like to help out a bit from February.

  7. David and Nancy Jones says:

    From your NZ Aunty and Uncle, good for you Richard and Marie, you are doing a great job.

  8. Keith Bracey says:

    Went down to Smethwick Library today and saw ‘Smethwick in a Stew’ in action….I saw Marie Marshall and her younger daughter Hannah and their friend Teresa and had a cup of coffee and a giggle with them…..

    As I am between jobs at the moment I am going down to Smethwick Library this Friday to help Marie and her daughter and friends to feed the hungry people of Smethwick as Marie said Friday was really busy last week…….

    I am looking forward to helping out and as you say it will look good on my CV when that next job opportunity comes along……

    Meanwhile only too willing to help out with Team Bearwood…….

    Brilliant Bearwood and Super Smethwick Communities….and thanks to those at Smethwick’s Dorothy Parkes Centre opposite Smethwick Old Church for preparing the food, which smelt gorgeous!

    • Bob says:

      Good on you Keith.

    • richard says:

      Yes good on ya Keith, Teresa is also helping out for similar reasons. Marie runs the job club as a volunteer at Thimble mill Library on a Monday and Wednesday and Teresa is someone she is trying to help into employment, you should come down to that Keith she has a very good success rate!

      • Keith Bracey says:

        Thanks Richard…..I will be joining Marie and Teresa on Monday as until last Monday I was learning the Gaelic language at the Langley Irish Community Centre at the Lodge at Langley Park on the High Street as I am out of work…..however I need a job and as my Irish Tutor now wants 30 quid to teach me Irish….begorrah….I cannot afford that so will be joining Marie at Thimblemill Library on Monday at 9.30am….as I trained as a teacher and know my way round a PC and keyboard I will offer to coach others seeking a job………See you and Marie tomorrow night at Thimblemill Library for the Lightwoods Park and House Volunteering Meeting…….Mind you I will have one eye to the radio as my club the Villa are playing the Baggies as Villa Park……Come on you Lions! Up the Villa! I know Bob Piper is also a Villa fan……..Come on Bob….show your support……but make sure you wash it first……Boom! Boom!…….Cheers Keith Bracey, Out of Work and Out of this World!

  9. Keith Bracey says:

    One eye to the radio……? That sounds a bit ‘cockeyed’………..?

    Surely it should be ‘one ear to the radio’?

    Not only ‘Out of Work’……’Out of this World’……but also ‘Out of his Mind’!……LOL!

    PS What did everyone think of my suggestions for the name of the proposed new Black Country Taverns and Inns ‘Real Ale’ pub at the Midland Bank Premises on Bearwood Road:……???

    1) ‘Bill’s Bar’ after Viscount Field Marshall William ‘Bill’ Slim…..the leader of ‘The Forgotten Army’ of largely Birmingham soldiers and Indian Army regulars who defeated the Japanese Imperial Army at the Battles of Kohima and Imphal in The Burma Campaign of 1945 and saved India from Japanese invasion. ‘Bill’ Slim was born and lived in Poplar Avenue, Bearwood, off Sandon Road, next to the road in Bearwood I lived in Willow Avenue. There is a Blue Birmingham Civic Society Plaque on Bill Slim’s house in Poplar Avenue.

    Poplar Avenue is a very famous road for Heroes of both world wars. There is also a Blue Birmingham Civic Society Plaque on the house which was the home of another Bearwood war hero from the First World War as Victoria Cross winner Major Herbert James VC who won his citation at Gallipoli in the Great War in 1915 at one time lived in Poplar Avenue before ending his days in Australia


    2) ‘The Midland Red’ echoing the building’s use as a ‘Midland Bank’ before they were taken over by The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation AKA HSBC and after the once mighty ‘Birmingham and Midlands Motor Omnibus Company’……..the ‘BMMO’……’The Midland Red’ as the bus company based in Rutland Road, Bearwood was known when it was one of Bearwood’s major employers along with British Pens at the bottom of Bearwood Road near where it becomes Smethwick High Street where Bearwood Nursing Home now is……

    Me old Mom Dot Bracey, worked for both British Pens and The Midland Red when she lived and worked in Bearwood and passed away in Bearwood Nursing Home in July 2010, returning to her working roots as Bearwood Nursing Home was the former British Pens Company Offices RIP Dot

  10. richard says:

    On behalf of everyone involved with this project i would like to a huge thank you for all the offers of help and support so far, in less than 2wks we have made sure that over 200 people living in our community have had at least one hot meal a day. We have had people walk in offering donations of money and food and more so offering to give up their own time to help fellow Smethwickians in need. Thanks especially this week to Julie, Karen, Teresa, Rhys, Paul, Keith and Hannah who have all given up their own lunchtimes to help out this worthwhile cause

  11. rachel says:

    Is this still running? I’d love to volunteer!

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