Community kitchen event is a souper way to bring people together

Charlotte Randall-Pape, Mark Shrubb and Rev Gemma Sampson with some of the items donated to The Family Kitchen's first gathering.
Charlotte Randall-Pape, Mark Shrubb and Rev Gemma Sampson with some of the items donated to The Family Kitchen's first gathering.

A new group is offering bowls of soup for the soul as it reaches out to keep people fed.

The Family Kitchen has been launched at St Aidan’s Church to bring people together for a weekly lunch and catch up.

Nine-year-old Lilly King was among those who lent a hand at the soup kitchen's launch.

Nine-year-old Lilly King was among those who lent a hand at the soup kitchen's launch.

In addition to feeding the homeless and those struggling to make ends meet, it is open to anyone feeling lonely or in need of some company.

The first session was held on Wednesday, with the team behind it delighted with the support it has been given by donors and volunteers.

In addition to serving up soup, the gathering offers sandwiches, cake and other sweet treats, hot drinks and juice, with visitors welcome to take home a bag of food.

It will run from 11am to 1pm each Thursday.

This is absolutely the kind of meal a church should be putting on.

Reverend Gemma Sampson

The club has been set up by mum Charlotte Randall-Pape and Sunderland firefighter Mark Shrubb, 38, who has helped set up others in Hetton and Sunderland, with the backing of church curate, Reverend Gemma Sampson.

Charlotte, from Seaton, said: “It’s been amazing, people have been donating, which is absolutely brilliant, and we’re so grateful.”

Mark said the first session had gone “fantastically well” and added: “It’s really great that the community have come in and now we want to get the word out.”

Rev Gemma: “We have an optional mass at 1pm, where people can stay or leave, because it made so much sense that if we were feeding people physically, wouldn’t it be great if we could also offer them the option of something spiritually.

St Aidan's Church, on the corner of Stockton Road and Oxford Road.

St Aidan's Church, on the corner of Stockton Road and Oxford Road.

“It seems a no-brainer and a lot of people from the community have already been in to light candles, and that was unexpected for me.

“This is absolutely the kind of meal a church should be putting on.”

The organisers said they had been delighted with the response to a shout out for volunteers, but are still keen to hear from anyone who can add their support to the effort.

Among those to call into the launch and to lend a hand were parishioners Kym Allaker, 35, and Mark Lewis, 29.

Kathrine Batty and Muriel Seymour serve up at The Family Kitchen.

Kathrine Batty and Muriel Seymour serve up at The Family Kitchen.

Mark said: “It’s really well run and Mother Gemma and the others have done a really good job.

“I think it’ll be a big help to people.”

Donors so far include Morrisons, Fast Snax, Penna’s in Owton Manor Lane, the Wharton Annexe and the Community Resource Centre in Kilmarnock, which sends out items pledged by Marks and Spencer, while Funky Monkey gifted aprons.

Anyone who would like to know more or volunteer can email Rev Gemma via revdgemma@gmail.com.