United Kingdom

Warm, soulful care

Claire Eldred

On a snowy January day that turned out to be the coldest day of the British winter, the Aspen UK team took over the kitchens of a London-based homeless project to provide a hot, three-course meal for nearly 70 people.

The team chose the C4WS* Homeless Project because they wanted to support the wider community in the part of central London (King’s Cross), where they regularly host business meetings.

“We purposely chose January to fulfil our Mandela Day commitment, as we wanted to maximise the benefit to the local homeless community during the peak of winter,” said Nick Scott, General Manager, Aspen UK.

“Our National Sales Manager, Lisa Syne, already volunteers at C4WS and we regularly collect donations of clothing for the shelter, so we had a personal as well as a professional connection with the project,” he added. “We knew this would be a great opportunity to a make a difference to people’s daily lives and wellbeing.”

As the snow fell in King’s Cross on 13 January, the team hosted the Friday Club, a weekly drop-in service that provides companionship, a hot and healthy lunch and professional welfare support to the homeless, vulnerable and those in need. They cooked a three-course meal of soup, roast chicken and apple crumble. As well as serving the meal, the team took time to chat and share a joke with the guests gathering for lunch and shelter. “

At the heart of Friday Club is a community environment,” noted Lisa. “As well as providing food, volunteers need to ensure it is a welcoming and friendly place. Our menu was very popular and the guests really liked the fact that the Aspen UK team represented all different parts of the country – they kept asking when we were coming back!”

Sam Forsdike, C4WS Homeless Project Welfare Coordinator echoed this positive feedback. “It was great to be able to offer such a hearty and warm meal in such miserable conditions”, he said. “The members seemed to really enjoy it and particularly the banter of the regionality of the Aspen team!”

“We’re really proud of the UK’s Mandela Day contribution,” concluded Lisa. “Successfully feeding nearly 70 people is a great test of teamwork, which was passed with flying colours. It was also humbling to see and appreciate the situation of people who are not as fortunate as ourselves."

Everyone left feeling inspired about the message behind Mandela Day – that even small, everyday actions can make a positive difference for others.

*C4WS - Community of Camden Churches Cold Weather Shelter