Bringing the community together over breakfast
Lewisham Irish Community Centre is offering a wide range of nutritious breakfast meals, free of charge, every Wednesday morning from 9:30-11:00am in their communal hall on Davenport Road, Catford. Open to anyone, the community meal is an opportunity for locals to get together; spark conversations; enjoy a hot drink on an iced-over morning; and get in on the craic.
The centre also houses a free, three-course meal on Saturdays, provided by Rushey Green Time Bank and FoodCycle Lewisham, as well as the Lewisham Fridge, aimed at curbing food waste and alleviating the stress of food poverty.
Speaking sincerely about the centre, Manager Kathleen Sheridan, said ‘our hospitality doesn’t just end at the Irish community of South East London, it extends to all of Lewisham’s wonderfully diverse community and our borough’s surrounding neighbours.’ Their goal is to continue developing the local community hub and introduce people to the wide range of social opportunities and wellbeing services that they provide. The centre demonstrates their commitment to the community through three primary focuses: relieving poverty, relieving sickness and relieving distress. This weekly gathering represents a further push to bring local people together, and, already, they are welcoming new faces to the centre week-on-week, forging friendships within the community.
One new attendee, who had popped in to have a chat and meet some new people, took out his wallet after placing his order of scrambled eggs, toast and tea, and was taken aback when volunteers assured him his breakfast would be free of charge. He laughed, ‘I thought you guys were a cafe!’
Community action like this is essential in the face of the mass food poverty and chronic loneliness we see on the rise here. The need to engage the community and bring people together has never been so pressing, and the Irish Community Centre’s Free Breakfast scheme is a shining example of good practice in targeting hunger and ill-health simultaneously.
Local Labour Cllr, James Walsh has been volunteering at the community breakfast, and has spoken about the urgent need to recognise the issues we face in South-East London. Men, women and children are living hungry, without social interaction, and because of this, their faith in the community that surrounds them dies out. The work of committed volunteers, like those here in Catford, holds enormous social value.
Developing community spirit is no simple task, and can appear impossible in this age of digital media. Though still in its infancy, Lewisham Irish Community Centre’s Free Breakfast is proving that sometimes it just takes principled action and a few tea bags to encourage people to come together.
If you want to find out more about Lewisham Irish Community Centre or their Free Community Breakfast contact their Centre Manager, Kathleen Sheridan, via telephone on 020 8695 6264, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit http://lewishamirish.org/.