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Church using soup to combat loneliness on Blue Monday

by Tola Mbakwe
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A priest in Cardiff is using food to combat loneliness and isolation in his community.

Fr Dean Atkins from St Mary’s Church, Butetown has organised an event dubbed The Day of the Soup, which involves multi-faith organisations from Grangetown, Splott, and Butetown serving free homemade soup to locals based on recipes which relate to their heritage and family histories.

The Day of the Soup is part of the Jo Cox’s Foundation’s Great Winter Get Together, which launches on Blue Monday, also known as the most depressing day of the year.

Fr Dean said serving free soup is a simple way of extending a welcome to all who live in the local area, regardless of race, religion or background.

“Day of the Soup is about tackling isolation and loneliness and giving people the opportunity to get together and socialise,” he said.

“It offers people a way of finding out about each other’s history and heritage in a welcoming space. Soup is a cheap and nutritious food, so it speaks to the cost-of-living crisis and helps provide a warm safe space for anyone in need of company. It’s a simple and effective way of bringing community together to celebrate diversity.”

Each group will create and supply their own soup, which will have a story or significance behind the recipe. St Mary’s Church will be contributing Spicy Carrot and Lentil Soup, which it says has been a favourite at past events.

Fr Dean added: “The reason we are doing these events now is because of the seasonal isolation and loneliness and it ties into Blue Monday. So, it’s to bring that light and cheer and bring some hope and happiness to people - which is our calling. It’s our calling as Christians to contribute towards building up community life and building people’s lives.”

The Great Winter Get Together is inspired by the late Jo Cox MP, who was killed on 16th June 2016.

In her first speech in Parliament, Cox said, “We have more in common than that which divides us.” Events in Jo’s name, like the Day of Soup, now take place annually across the UK with the aim of building bridges.

Listen to Premier's interview with Fr Dean here: 

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