St Austell Community Kitchen has a simple core aim, which is to offer a nutritious and affordable meal in a welcoming, warm and dry environment to anyone in their community who needs it. Their success is due to the fantastic support they have inspired in their local community. As well as a dedicated staff of 35 people who all give their time for free, the group received donations of food worth over £500 a month, without which they couldn’t deliver their valuable service. They actively reach out to the local community with regular ‘Open Days’ to show their work and the difference it makes to some of the most vulnerable people.
With funding from Cornwall Rural Community Council, St Austell Community Kitchen last year bought six laptops and a printer and now runs computer courses for its clients and volunteers. A computer club, with free wi-fi access, is held on Wednesday afternoons and is used to help people look for jobs and accommodation and to keep in touch with their families.
St Austell Community Kitchen:
- has provided nearly 100,000 hot meals for vulnerable people
- has served in excess of 300,000 cups of tea/coffee
- is staffed by volunteers whose wage bill would be worth £62,000 annually if they were paid
- is supported by local business, including a cafe in the town which donates its unused fresh bread and cakes, and a local dairy that provides 30 to 40 litres of fresh milk twice a week
- recently won a Queen’s Voluntary Award - the highest award for volunteer groups in the UK
Commenting on the award Prime Minister David Cameron said:
St Austell Community Kitchen is a fantastic organisation which is making a daily difference to some of the people in the local community who are most in need. What is so impressive in their work is the way they reach out to the whole community to make them a part of their work, giving everyone the chance to donate or get involved and regularly holding open days to bring them together with those they are helping.
It is also great to see how the charity has grown from feeding homeless and vulnerable people to offering training and access to computers to help them change their lives. I hope they continue to bring the community together to make a difference and help even more people.
Kim and David Matthews of St Austell Community Kitchen said:
We are so delighted to be recognized by the Prime Minister and his award. The Charity has been running for 25 glorious years. Two years ago we were threatened with closure due to lack of funding, but a year after this we 2012 celebrated the opening of a new location on St Cross High Street.
Receiving awards has made a real and positive contribution to the lives of those we support.
Notes to editors
St Austell Community Kitchen was set up for the prevention or relief of poverty in Cornwall by providing or assisting in the provision of nutritious food, drink and clothing for those in need, and by providing education, training and such other support to relieve poverty as the trustees may determine.
David and Kim Mathews
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The Big Society Network
On the Big Society Awards
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.
The award focuses upon three specific areas.
Outstanding contribution to community
- people, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves
- projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions
- people, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community
Improving lives and society through innovation, collaboration and new partnerships
- people and organisations taking new approaches to public services
- successful collaboration and partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector - working together to benefit communities
Engaging in social action
- people, projects and organisations taking action in their community
- working together for social change (e.g. through creating groups, campaigns, movements)
- generosity of time, money, skills and other resources - in support of social action
Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:
There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.
These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.
Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a Panel of Ministers and independent external experts. This Panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to. Twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced once a week throughout the year.
62 winners have been announced to date, including:
Magic Breakfast - a national charity which is dedicated to ensuring every child starts the school day with the right breakfast
FoodCycle - a project that brings together young volunteers, surplus food and free kitchen space to create nutritious meals for people affected by food poverty in the UK
Crest Co-Op - is a recycling social enterprise working at the heart of the community to provide jobs, skills and meals for people living in food poverty
For a full list of winners visit http://www.bigsocietyawards.org