A woman who celebrated her 87th birthday is one of over a thousand people who have used a Spalding project’s free lunch to help those that need it.
Hub In, Hub Out, is the first project put on by Project St Thomas, the community centre set up by the town’s St Norbert’s Catholic Church.
That came about after the church bought the empty former baptist church next door thanks to a kind donation by the late Peter Borst.
It offers soup and sandwiches that have been donated by Bakkavor and donations from Morrison’s Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Pinchbeck Spar via the town’s surplus food scheme.
It came from an idea by Fr Jim Burke during the pandemic to help get food to the church’s vulnerable neighbours.
It became a weekly Hub In which then led to a ‘mobile cafe’ service known as Hub Out.
The whole community has helped out. Former councillor Jack McLean provided a large donation from his ward budget to get this started while Budgens in Donington donated a large freezer along with 50 large loaves of bread.
“It was a slow starter,” said project leader Mannii Pinnick.
“In the first few months we were only seeing around five and six people a week, but then we moved into the centre in October.
“We are now regularly seeing 20-30 people a week with new faces arriving all the time.
“In our first year we have welcomed over 1,000 people through our doors, ranging from our elderly neighbours and parishioners, those living alone and the homeless and in most need.
“Our dining room is getting smaller!”
Since the start Project St Thomas has linked up with the Community Mind Matters group and every month take a Hub Out to one of their meetings promoting good mental health by putting on food.
The group also has a team of around 20 volunteers who put on the sessions.
They include several aged 18 or under working in their community.
With eight volunteers needed to run a session though, they’re always looking for more.
They’d particularly like to re-start the Hub Out in Holbeach which has had to be suspended after one of the volunteers left.
“Our volunteers have been getting very creative in the kitchen over the past year, from shepherds pies to jacket potatoes to stews, even cakes and desserts,” continued Mannii. “We would love to hear from any other groups or services that would like to work with us providing Hub Out to as many people as possible.”
Shirley Ilett recently celebrated her birthday with the Hub In sessions at Project St Thomas held on Sundays from 12pm to 2pm.
“I think this is a fantastic service the volunteers provide for us, especially for those of us who live on our own,” she said. “I didn’t think services like this would be free so I’m very grateful and I always tell my neighbours about Hub In Hub Out.
“I had a fall just outside the centre a few months ago and I was very well looked after here.
“Even when I felt I needed to go to the hospital, two volunteers took me and waited with me until my family arrived.
“They are also vey happy that I’ve found Hub In Hub Out.
“I never miss a session!”
For more information on Project St Thomas visit www.projectstthomas.co.uk or if you’re interested in volunteering email firstname.lastname@example.org