Submitted by Sr Lynne, fcJ from FCJ Centre St Hugh’s
Last September we began a collaborative project at St Hugh’s between ourselves, Bellerive FCJ Catholic College and St Hugh’s Catholic Primary. Bellerive 6th Form students come each Monday during their 6th Form Enrichment lessons to help set up and run our ‘Community Kitchen’.
The students welcome young mums whose children attend the primary school, they give them a space to chat, have coffee and biscuits and a bit of downtime without the children. Many of these mums are struggling financially and the students are able to help them by providing a ‘meal bag’ for anyone who wishes with dried and tinned food that can help them out with a hot meal for their family.
The project has developed as each successive group of students (they rotate groups every half term) shows initiative and generates a different idea in response to the needs expressed by the women. We now provide children’s clothes collected mainly from staff at Bellerive, bedding provided by the parish of St Clare and St Hugh, and baby equipment sourced by Sr Breda Bresnihan!
Most of the women are Roma – from both Slovakia and Romania – (Lynne’s smattering of Romanian comes in very handy as few speak English), so we have linked with another Roma outreach project to try to coordinate provision and understand their needs more fully.
One of the benefits of the project is that it links diverse people together, helping local families to understand and respond to the needs of a group of women they would not normally even be aware of, and certainly would tend to have had prejudiced views about. Meeting each other as families helping other families enables understanding to grow.