Local Food Economy

Bristol community food heroes: Hibo, Luke, Kristjan and Pensri

By Isobel Cox

In our latest blog post, Bristol Food Network volunteer Isobel Cox interviews some of the amazing volunteers, chefs and community workers who are providing the good food response to the coronavirus crisis. Meet Hibo, Luke, Kristjan and Pensri.

Hibo Mahamoud from Talo

Talo was founded by Hibo Mahamoud in 2017 and focuses on supporting families in St Pauls and the surrounding areas with housing, employment and benefits. At the beginning of lockdown the organisation applied for emergency funding from the Quartet Foundation in order to support the community during the pandemic.

“I live in St Pauls – in the same community I work with, so I cannot turn a blind eye, I cannot pretend that my neighbours are not struggling. For me, and the team, we had to do something. During the pandemic we’re delivering food parcels made up of food that we receive from Fareshare South West, starting at St Pauls but also to as many people who are in need of it as possible. One of our most popular services is that we do shopping for anyone who’s self-isolating. We’re also supporting anyone who needs help accessing their employment or benefits rights, for anyone who’s not able to access it through the usual routes.

“We organise a weekly creative pack for children – there will always be at least one recipe using ingredients that are found in most households, and each week we try and reach out to different organisations to add a resource to it. When I go back home and think about the conversations I’ve had with people that we’re helping, it just shows that something that is very easy for me is a lifeline for those people. The amount of thanks I’ve received via text and voicemail – there’s been so many – it just makes you want to go back the next day and help some more.”

Chefs Luke and Kristjan from Heart of BS13

Heart of BS13 are a team bringing together expertise from a range of disciplines, to support people in Hartcliffe and Withywood to take positive steps towards living healthier lives. The organisation aims to inspire and create social enterprise in the area, putting BS13 on the map as a place where innovation creates employment and a healthy and thriving community. They have started a COVID-19 food response which is part of the wider work that the organisation delivers to support nutrition and food resilience in BS13

“So, there we were at the beginning of lockdown contemplating – well, who knew what? When Heart of BS13 asked us to turn their community kitchen into an emergency food response, we couldn’t think of a good reason not to! The food we make goes to the BS13 community who have lost work, are waiting for benefits or socially isolating. We’re creating almost 1000 meals a week, like a scaled up ‘Ready Steady Cook’, adapting ingredients with creativity and imagination.

Luke: As someone in recovery, I know what it’s like to become isolated. Being part of the food response team has been crucial for my well-being, giving me a sense of purpose and helping me to feel positive and stay connected.

Kristjan: For me it’s been a lifeline. My family are currently overseas, so being part of a community team, rising to the challenge and using my creativity for something that really matters is exactly what I’ve needed.”

Pensri Sakornphan from Wat Phra Sri Sanphet

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet UK is an organisation fundraising to establish a Thai temple in Bristol. They also provide food and transport for Thai monks living in the U.K., who in turn support the local Thai community. During the coronavirus pandemic Wat Phra Sri Sanphet have provided food for NHS key workers.  

“The Thai people in Bristol have been worried about the NHS staff and they’ve been so grateful for what staff have been doing for us, looking after the patients and doing hard, high-risk work. So they wanted to do something to show their support. I am a nursing assistant at the BRI hospital, and I work with the temple (Wat Phra Sri Sanphet). I am in contact with the Thai community and restaurants, so I am an important link to coordinate donations.

“I feel happy and proud that I can do something to help other people at this time. At the beginning of the pandemic, my friends were worried about how I was coping, I told them I was fine but other people working at the hospital could use some help. When you’re tired you need to eat, you need energy. At work, we’re all so busy that sometimes you can’t plan what to eat or get to the shops, so the donations of Thai food have been a huge help to NHS workers.”

Visit Bristol Food Network for more information and resources on Bristol’s good food response to the pandemic.

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