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!”