Many businesses offer support to their local community and during the current lockdown crisis, more than ever, this is critical. For us one such project is the Merstham Mix Cafe – a community interest company (CIC) based on the Merstham estate*, just around the corner from our head office. We’ve been donating to support their latest community venture.
“All the meals provided have been of a superb quality and wonderfully presented etc. I do absolutely appreciate the way that you were able to very quickly adapt the service to suit our needs and for that I feel so grateful.” Sarah, customer
Opened in 2017, the café’s mission is to create a space where everyone who walks through the door feels welcome. The food in the cafe is affordable and healthy and they also provide free hot meals for members of the community accessing the local foodbank. They offer a daily special which is always delicious, and wholesome and is created using high-quality donated produce sourced alongside core suppliers. It is a warm and welcoming space in the heart of the community for people to connect with others, access services and feel a sense of belonging.
Feeding the community
This all changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cafe tried to stay open as long as possible, but following the government guidelines on 23rd March, they closed their doors. In order to continue supporting the residents of Merstham, the Directors and Management quickly came up with the idea of a hot meal delivery service. This was launched on Monday 30th March (just 2 weeks after the start of the lockdown) to ensure that vulnerable and isolated members of the community could still have access to good, healthy food.
We thought we would share a collection of the meals and desserts we have been delivering to people. Chef Neil, kitchen staff and volunteers are doing a great job in providing healthy homemade meals. Well done everyone involved! #merstham #surrey #food #delivery pic.twitter.com/0YU8Wl3bNv
— The Merstham Mix Cafe (@mersthammix) May 6, 2020
We were talking to them about how we could help and decided that a weekly donation would be useful to enable them to put this towards catering supplies or enabling subsidised meals for those in need. Thanks to the support of corporate donors (like ourselves) and fundraising they have delivered 12 weeks of free and subsidised meals to those who have been affected financially by the pandemic. This has meant supporting a range of people from whole families where both parents have lost their jobs to the elderly who are not able to leave their homes.
“Our very elderly friend is no longer able to cook for herself and so, having hot nutritious meals delivered daily is invaluable, not only for her health but also her peace of mind. And ours. So thank you once again for all your care and hard work. You are all stars!” Mr. & Mrs. Samuels, customers
So how have the cafe done…? as you can see below, it’s pretty impressive.
But it’s not just daily hot meals that the cafe provide They have also used their service to make thee challenging times a little easier. Early on in lockdown the granddaughter of a local resident who put out a request for ideas to help her isolated 98 year old grandfather celebrate this birthday, as he was unable to see his family. The Merstham Mix team baked a birthday cake and delivered it to his front door – lovely surprise act of kindness and adding a sense of occasion to his day.
Happy birthday to Merstham resident George who is 98 today! Limited by current circumstances, his family reached out via social media for ideas to make it a special day. The Merstham Mix was happy to step in and bake a cake. Hope you enjoy it and have a great day George! ? pic.twitter.com/hxoCgCEN9Z
— The Merstham Mix Cafe (@mersthammix) April 22, 2020
The Merstham Mix café ordinarily provides a place for the community to meet, socialise and have good, wholesome food. There are many regular customers and volunteers who rely on the cafe for social interaction and the café staff continue to work hard with other front line service providers to ensure that the community has the range of services that it needs. Whilst there are many of social issues such as loneliness, depression and anxiety which are on the rise as a result of the pandemic, the connection that the cafe team and service provides is making a real impact in the lives of local people.
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from the meals delivery service please click here for more info.
* The Merstham estate sits within decile 1 of the national deprivation index, which means it is in the lowest 10% in the country, despite Surrey being one of the most prosperous boroughs in the UK.