Dinner winners look to move into Portland Road building

After 18 months of serving up thousands of delicious meals, using what would otherwise be unwanted and surplus food, the South Norwood Community Kitchen could soon be on the move. But rest assured, they won’t be going far…

Dinner winners: the Community Kitchen team with their recent council civic award

The community initiative is the idea of local couple Laura Whittall and Paul Mitchell, started in April last year, and has been operating out of a church hall in Oliver Grove. Using donations from supermarkets and allotment-holders, it has been providing hot meals and the chance to come together for a laugh and a natter for a couple of hours each Saturday.

But they have been seeking larger, dedicated premises to enable them to expand their operations, and even provide even more free meals for the community.

After months of negotiations, they may be close to getting to use the council-owned Socca Cheta building on Portland Road.

“Exciting news!” Whittall wrote on social media.

The South Norwood Community Kitchen provides dozens of hot meals every Saturday

“A local collective, including South Norwood Community Kitchen, Croydon BME Forum, Screen25 and Croydon Utd Dominoes Club have won the bid to revitalise the Socco Cheta building on Portland Road and turn it into a community hub for South Norwood.

“We have very exciting plans to turn the building into a community-led space that will have a number of activities and services for all local people (ideas include a community café, gardens, youth and older people projects etc.) as well as providing a co-working hub and space for local groups to use for their own projects.

“There is a way to go yet, but we are currently working with Croydon Council to formalise things and once finalised, we will be holding a number of community workshops so you can help design the place you want, and to make sure what we develop meets the needs of everyone in South Norwood.”

This move came just as Whittall, Mitchell and their band of hard-working volunteers had their outstanding efforts recognised at the Croydon Council Civic Awards, where they won the “Stronger Together” category.

At the awards dinner, staged at the Croydon Hilton, South Norwood Community Kitchen’s work was described thus: “The kitchen was launched to create a space to bring the community together and support those in need – food, company, support and laughter is available for anyone who walks through the doors.

The council-owned Socco Cheta building, soon to be put to good use

“After just a year the kitchen is attracting 30-40 people a week from across the community who come together to share food. For some people this is their only chance to chat to others, have a nutritious meal and enjoy a positive community experience.”

Which would seem to make it very difficult for potential landlords Croydon Council now not to provide South Norwood Community Kitchen with a lease on very favourable terms for the building on Portland Road.

For more information about the South Norwood Community Kitchen, and to find out how you can volunteer, visit their website here.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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