As of Friday 30th October, one church and its supportive community has served 5,000 meals for free to people in need over the last six months.
Great Lumley Methodist Church near Durham started the scheme after a concerned telephone call from County Councillor Alan Bell.
As the village church already ran 'Heaven's Kitchen' for vulnerable people, they quickly started to increase their capacity and grew to provide up to 130 hot meals twice a week for the vulnerable and elderly in the village. A second kitchen was soon added to handle demand and the local Community Centre joined in to help.
As the word got round the Great Lumley community via social media, concerned neighbours, family and friends made referrals for lunches.
As the project grew, volunteers joined to peel potatoes, cook, package-up and deliver the meals in a Covid-safe manner. More than 50 people volunteered while they were unable to be at work full time.
The meals have been given free of charge but have been paid for by money arrived from all directions, including the local football club, county councillors, the parish council, charities, shops, businesses, the church itself and generous personal donations. More than £10,000 has been donated, as well as food donations.
When the food is delivered to people's home, the volunteers also stay to chat for a short while , something the church described as "the highlight of the week for many of the elderly and lonely in the village". During the summer, pupils from Lumley Junior School also sent hand-made letters and cards to elderly people receiving lunches.
One of the project organisers Tom Sterling (pictured) said: "Each meal is actually a little package of love. The boxes are always labelled with the hashtag: #loveoneanother, reflecting the words of Jesus Christ. This community project has been a real demonstration of how people can love each other by the generous giving of time, energy and money to others less fortunate than themselves."
The project is continuing while the pandemic is ongoing.