New home for homelessness charity

Charity that cooks meals for homeless offered new kitchen by local vicar

Christian Kitchen

Christian Kitchen volunteers serving meals to people in Walthamstow (Credit Adjoa Wiredu)

A homelessness charity that was itself searching for a new home is celebrating after finding a kitchen where it can cook up to 60 meals a night for local rough sleepers.

Christian Kitchen had been desperately hunting for new premises where it could prepare the three-course meals it cooks for homeless people in Walthamstow every night of the year, a service it has provided for a quarter-of-a-century.

This happened after the charity was given notice to leave the kitchen it had been using the previous four years at Branches homeless hostel in Forest Road, by the end of this month, because Branches needed its cooking facilities for its own residents.

Norman Coe, Christian Kitchen’s chairperson, told the Echo: “Thankfully an offer was made by a local church. Finding a premises that you can use seven days a week is very difficult, so it’s a great result.

“We still need as much help as possible – there will be costs incurred in relocating. We have got one month to get the new kitchen ready for cooking between 50 and 60 meals every night.”

Christian Kitchen

Norman Coe from Christian Kitchen

The new kitchen has been offered by the vicar of St Michael and All Angels Church in Northcote Road, Alex Summers. He said: “I heard they needed a new kitchen and we were just glad we could help. They are round the corner from us, so it seemed obvious. I’m hoping to volunteer myself to help with the cooking!”

The meals are dispensed each night by Christian Kitchen volunteers from a soup van, parked up in Mission Grove.

A protest against the eviction of the charity by Branches was held last week, after being organised by members of Waltham Forest Trades Council. Tommy Anderson, who regularly helps serve food with Christian Kitchen, said: “Long before giving notice, Branches should have worked with the council to provide another kitchen. Just because people are homeless they should still be treated with dignity.”

A spokesperson for Branches said: “We have recently reviewed our service offer around life skills and have employed a ‘life skills worker’ to offer added support to residents with valuable skills they need after they leave Branches, such as cooking. This means we now need full use of the Branches kitchen, which was being used every day by Christian Kitchen.

“This decision was discussed with the chairperson of Christian Kitchen, who has been very understanding of Branches’ position. The decision was not taken lightly and a number of options were considered, but ultimately the trustees of Branches have a responsibility to make the decision that is best for our residents.”

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