More than a dash of ‘Kindness’



Alan Dearling with Odgie Danaan, Pam Smith, Gig and Millie Joy and lots of friends… creatively fight back poverty.


In the wake of Tory MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson suggesting that people should learn to better budget their finances rather than use food banks, there has been a widespread criticism of politicians essentially blaming ‘poverty’ on the activities of poor people themselves. Mr Anderson added, “There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country”, during a Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech. He added, “We’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they can’t cook a meal from scratch, they cannot budget.”

In reality, major sections of the population are now ‘poor’ and facing ‘poverty’ as energy costs rise and inflation nudges towards 10%. They are facing the biggest drop in living standards since records began in 1956. That’s according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, which calculates that food prices are rising at the fastest rate in 30 years.


Here are two examples of successful and FUN community initiatives!






The Northern Soul Kitchen is based in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.


It’s a different sort of café, originally founded by Millie Joy. It’s also a community ‘hub’. They make creative use of unsold, surplus food to serve up delicious meals, sandwiches, vegan options and cakes and bakes.

The organisers say, “All meals from our café on West Street are ‘pay what you can’, meaning you make a donation in return for your grub – everyone is welcome here at Northern Soul Kitchen.”

That’s not all they do. They also organise ‘THE SHARE SHOP’ to sell-on donated and surplus food. They say, “Feed the bellies not the bins!” adding that, “Our fabulous volunteers will have the shop ready for you at 11am. Pay what you can, and please bring your own bag.”


Another initiative is their SECRET SUPPER CLUB.

This has been a huge success with local diners…

Their marketing for the events say:

“Why not give it a go?

Trust us with your dinner plans, book a table only knowing what time you’re coming.


The menu will always be delicious, the vibes will be different each time, the café will always be lit by candles and ready for you to enjoy your evening.”


Djs, music and free food in Tod at the Golden Lion pub and venue.

Located in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, two young local Djs, Stephen Lomax and Nick Roger, came up with the concept. An evening of entertainment, free food and fund-raising for the local food bank.

Odgie Danaan writes:


“Poor people can face a great deal of stigma in this country. Yet I know from my decade or so being involved at the front line of food banks that people in poverty are often the kindest and most humble of all – I deal with the long, apologetic explanations from people who have fallen on hard times, usually through no fault of their own, and are so sorry to trouble us but are desperate to come and collect 10 food items in a bag once a week that those of us with a quid or two in our pockets wouldn’t think twice about buying in the supermarket. Hard times indeed.

And, of course, there are also so many other wonderfully kind and helpful people in the world as well. People who aren’t in poverty, but are more than happy to dedicate time, help and resources to those who are. And Tod in general and the Golden Lion in particular is very well served with those sorts of people.

So, it was a great privilege for me and Pam to be able to go and volunteer alongside some of them in the Lion last night. The concept was simple but beautifully thought out. People who are poor are well aware of the stigmas placed against them, to the extent they can sometimes feel bad about even being seen to enjoy themselves. But everybody has a right to enjoyment, everybody has a right to partake in society, everybody is equal – some just don’t have any money. So, as well as the Djs playing for free last night to raise money for Pam’s local food bank here in Cornholme, Gig the landlady and Thai Ladies Kitchen took the chance to lay on meals for the families who use the food bank. Reserved tables, decorated with tablecloths and flowers, were an extra nice touch, and the food included chicken curry, a delicious vegetarian curry, beautifully cooked rice, wine, and a seemingly endless supply of fresh cooked chips and chicken nuggets and fruit juices for the kids.

Me and Pam were on meet ‘n greet and serving and waiting on, and it was just so heart-warming a thing to be involved in. The little kids kept coming back, ‘Have you got any more nuggets please?’, ‘Have you got any more juice please?’, watching their eyes light up as we said yes and served them. It was just a joy to be honest.

Yes, it’s sad that we even have to do these things. This country is easily rich enough that we should never need food banks, never need to give people free meals, it’s simply that the money is so unequally divided up. But given that we can’t change the system overnight, giving people respect and decent treatment and full bellies and happy memories is the next best thing.

One Love y’all. XXX

“Oh, PS: I think we fed around 50 people in the end, and also raised £150 cash for the food bank. Thankstoall

Odgie Danaan


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