26 parishes across the Church of England in and around Gloucestershire have joined forces with Stroud-based social enterprise, The Long Table, to empower our local communities to come together by sharing food.
The Comfort and Joy project recruited local people in local churches to sponsor and deliver meals for people in their communities who could do with a bit of extra TLC this festive season. In some places it was for people who are shielding, in others it was for people who would be alone and in other communities it was used to help families who have had a particularly challenging year financially.
Tom Herbert from The Long Table said, “We have been blown away by the enthusiasm from local churches with many adding their own sparkle to the meals by adding homemade mince pies and many more fun treats! I know that those fortunate enough to be receiving the Comfort and Joy meal packs this year will feel a sense of community and togetherness this Christmas and I trust they will know they are in everyone’s thoughts this winter period.”
There are over 3,000 meals going to people across Gloucestershire, cooked up by The Long Table and distributed through armies of church community volunteers.
Katherine Clamp, who is helping with the project in Lydney, Woolaston, Alvington and Aylburton Benefice said, “It’s been particularly wonderful to see the way this project is building relationships between church and school communities across our area. It’s been a rough year for a lot of people and we’re delighted to be able to work with our local school by providing families with meals and spreading a little comfort and joy. We want people to know that their church is there when they need it, and that Christmas can never be cancelled.”
Emma Mignaud is Head at Primrose Hill Primary Academy, one of the Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust schools. She said, “Our relationship with our local church is one that we really value and which is getting stronger by the day. It’s good to know that the school is an important part of the worshipping community in Lydney and we hope to continue building our links in the coming years.”
To hear more about the project, listen to Radio Gloucestershire with Richard Atkins at 1:06 into the show to hear from Tom Herbert and at 2:40 into the show to hear Katherine Clamp speak about how it’s working on the ground.