Good Food Grant helps homeless enjoy healthy meal

How our Good Food Grant has helped vital centre providing support for homeless and isolated in Kemptown.

by Sarah Davenport 

Our Good Food Grants award small grants for community projects that aim to improve the health, skills and confidence of local residents. St. Anne’s Day Centre was one of the many projects across Brighton and Hove to benefit last year.

Our intern, Sarah Davenport visited the centre recently to find out how they are getting on:

On a damp Friday morning in the depths of winter I headed out to visit St. Anne’s Day Centre to see how they had benefited from receiving one of our Good Food Grants last year. Walking through Kemptown I almost missed the building at first as the entrance is tucked away off the street, but after noticing some people chatting outside I ventured in.

When I arrived I was warmly welcomed by Mary, who manages the centre, and was introduced to the volunteers working busily away in the kitchen. Not wanting to disturb the chefs at work Mary and I chatted in the entrance hall, welcoming people in while she eagerly told me about all the work they do.

The centre is run by volunteers and a small paid team of Mary and Shelley, the catering manager who work together to provide food and friendship to homeless or inadequately housed people five days a week.

Grant allows centre to help everyone 

Mary said the Good Food grant was particularly important to them due to the low amount of restrictions on who could benefit from it. The St. Anne’s Day Centre’s core belief is that anyone who needs help should be welcomed, this means their options for grant funds are limited; the Good Food Grant was the only one they had last year. Local parishes, schools, business and individuals all donate money to ensure the project continues but the Good Food Grant allowed them to buy much needed equipment, such as knives, roasting tins, a hand-stick blender and an electric can opener.

Midway through our conversation we got chatting to a lady who came to take some fruit from a box by the door. It was filled with pomegranates and sharon fruits from FareShare, Mary explained how they often also get bread donated for people to take with them.

After trying to explain the taste of sharon fruit to the lady and hearing about her time as a young girl in the navy, Mary went on to explain that although many homeless and inadequately housed people can access food, it is often of low nutritional value which can leave people feeling hungry.  It is then easy for those experiencing addiction to misinterpret this hunger for a craving. That’s why at St. Anne’s Day Centre they always prepare a good breakfast and a healthy hearty three course lunch, with soup and rolls, a hot main course and biscuits or fruit for dessert.

Once Mary had filled me in on the ins and outs of the centre I headed into the hall where everyone sits to enjoy their food and chat. There was a gentle buzz about the place as everyone let their breakfast go down and waited for their lunch.

In the queue for the tea, I got talking to Andrew, who told me he had been coming to the centre for two years because it was the only place he knew could get a proper meal. When he realised I was from the Food Partnership he also told me about how he’d been enjoying helping out with our Saunders Park community garden project which was great to hear.

Tea, calm and conversation

Luke joined in the conversation and mentioned he had been coming to St. Anne’s for a while. An upbeat and animated character, Luke was also complimentary of Shelley’s food and Mary’s passion to help. He commented that St. Anne’s Day centre was the only one he would attend, because of the calm atmosphere, even though it means walking  from Hove.

After an interesting and inspiring chat with Luke I was offered some tea and taken outside to meet Brendan and Neil. They like the community atmosphere and feel like the centre was a place where they can meet with friends and other interesting people.

Once I’d finished chatting to Brendan and Neil it was time to head back to the office. So I said goodbye to everyone and headed back into the centre of town, feeling a bit brighter than before on such a damp Friday morning.

If you know of a community project that helps improve the health, skills and confidence of local residents and would benefit from a small grant they can find out more via our website or by contacting Helen on 01273 431 700 or .