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Cook for Good – bringing the Priory Green Estate together

Cook For Good Group Photo

Cook for Good opened the doors of their Community Pantry in September 2021. Using Peabody's old laundry building on the Priory Green Estate, it now has over 350 member households.

Published: 05/03/2024

We recently visited the morning session to chat with some of its volunteers and members. 

The Pantry Manager, Tom, told us how it works: “Food Bank Aid, The Felix Project and local  businesses give us surplus and donated food every week. 

"Our volunteers are all members of the community. They help us unload and set everything up on Wednesdays, so we're ready to open at 9am on Thursdays.  

"Members sign in, and they're given ten points for ten items. The points are worth around £30- £35 of food. As you can see, it's very popular – it's only 10.15am, and we've already had 47 members through the door." 

There's also a community café, where members can pick up a free pastry, tea, coffee, and a bowl of homemade soup. With café style tables and chairs and comfy sofas where members can sit and chat, there's a warm and welcoming feeling as soon as you walk through the door. 

As Martha, the Community Coordinator, explains: "It's a special place, full of people who want to help and support one another. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and looks out for each other." 

Meet their volunteers 

Martha was keen for us to meet their team of volunteers who help make the Pantry work. She introduced us to Bekka and Karima, telling us how it’s making a positive impact on their lives. 

Bekka has volunteered at the Pantry since it opened and also volunteers with the Good Neighbours scheme at our local Hugh Cubitt Community Centre. The Cook for Good team train their volunteers to cover all areas of the Pantry from the shop floor, to the café and checkout. Bekka’s role on the day was supporting any members on the shop floor with their baskets. 

"I had a stroke at 30 and have got a lot of ongoing health issues. I felt stuck and lost, but then I started volunteering at Hugh Cubitt. From there, I've moved to the Pantry. I love how it brings the community together to help and support each other and reduce waste, too." Bekka, Pantry Volunteer 

Karima is one of the Pantry's newest volunteers. A friend introduced her after she was made redundant and started to feel depressed. She's now a member and has been volunteering for almost three months.  

Karima has already completed her level 2 Health and Safety in the Kitchen training with Cook for Good and is thinking about moving on to do their six-month Community Brigade programme. 

"I'm currently looking for work, but I'd still like to volunteer. I'm thinking about something within the catering and hospitality business because I love it here. I've got to know lots of the members, and it feels like an extended family. Karima, Pantry Volunteer 

Another volunteer who's been with the Pantry from the beginning was also working on the day we visited - warming up the soup, making tea and coffee, and washing up. She explained how she sometimes struggles to leave her home due to anxiety. 

"The first time I came to the Pantry, I felt awkward and started to walk away. There was something about the place, though it made me want to go back. I turned around and went in, and I'm so glad I did. They never put any pressure on me to work to set schedules. I know if my mental health isn't up to it, they'll understand."  Pantry Volunteer 

Hear what their members think 

We also met Pantry members, such as Bridie, who has lived on the estate for 60 years and remembers when the building was a laundry. 

"I visit the Pantry regularly. I'm 88 and have trouble walking, but I still like to get out when I can. Coming to the Pantry makes me feel better. It's nice to spend time with good people, have a hot drink or their homemade soup." Bridie, Pantry Member 

Nadiyo is another member who is also undertaking Cook for Good's Community Brigade programme. She has lived on the estate for 16 years and visits the Pantry with her two neighbours.  

"I've met new people, and it's nice to be able to stop and say hello to someone because you recognise them from the Pantry. It’s nice to know you live near friendly people. The Pantry is so special – it brings everyone together." Nadiyo, Pantry Member 

Learn more about Cook for Good 

Cook for Good is a not-for-profit organisation combining corporate team building with social responsibility to benefit the local community. 

Visit Cook for Good to learn more about how their corporate team-building events help fund their training and volunteering programmes and make the soup they serve at the Pantry. 

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