Afro-Caribbean charities combine to help the Windrush generation

Christmas meals for elders trying to cope with the lockdown.

Three local charities have joined forces to ensure the city’s African and Caribbean elders will not face the winter challenge alone.

The Soup and Dumpling Elderly Programme provides weekly hot meals on the doorstep for many elderly individuals who are vulnerable. With a cold winter predicted and the pandemic limiting the mixing of households the services they receive from these charities are vital to their welfare.

Birmingham has over 4,000 elderly Caribbean people experiencing a long and lonely winter whilst facing another lockdown. In order to help this older generation, Kajans Women’s Enterprise Ltd, Our People Our Legacy and Aurora B Friendly Association are working together delivering hot culturally specific cuisine.

“Often we find we are the only people they have seen for days and sometimes we watch them literally losing weight each week. A traditional meal, even just once a week, benefits them enormously, both physically and mentally. We just have to continue this scheme through the winter, because they are unlikely to get their familiar West Indian foods and dishes in any local food bank. It’s hugely important that we can provide them with a traditional, healthy Caribbean hot meal,” said Ken Ivey from OPOL.

The food is cooked in the Kajans Community Centre kitchen in the heart of Aston, one of the most disadvantaged areas of the city. Sixteen to twenty regular volunteers come together weekly to help out – professional chefs assist with the cooking; local young men use their lunchbreaks to drive the meals across the city; capable members of the elderly community also come in and help prepare the food and clean the kitchens.

Other volunteers also go to the wholesale markets at 6am to get the ingredients at thebest price they can. The scheme started during the first lockdown with over 2,800 meals already gratefully received. The three charities with the support of local churches, ASDA and Morrisons will provide 200 Christmas lunches and another 200 meals at the New Year. However, the cupboards are nearly bare and funds are desperately needed to buy ingredients, so the scheme can continue throughout the looming winter.

The scheme was originally funded by employees and board members from the three charities who pooled their own personal funds to buy ingredients. Since then various charitable grants and help in kind from local companies, including FarShare and Aston Villa Football Club, Morrisons have enabled the scheme to continue.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Mohammed Azim, has praised the local initiative. He said, “Please accept my
heartfelt thanks, you and everyone at Kajans have gone out of your way to provide an essential service in these challenging times and you truly are all heroes.”