Holy Trinity Community Kitchen: Providing food and opportunities in Brussels

STORIES
First published on: 30th June 2022

Holy Trinity Community Kitchen, based at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Brussels, provides food and volunteering opportunities for people in need.

The Community Kitchen was established in September 2019, as a response to an increased need for food from Brussels’ refugee population. USPG’s support, part of our ongoing engagement with refugee response ministries in the Diocese in Europe, will provide food for the Community Kitchen until 2023.

 

Distributing food at the Red Cross centre

Our support offers some stability for the Community Kitchen. The initiative has recently scaled up its operations, now providing up to 2,500 meals a week to those in need. This food is then distributed at Red Cross and Salvation Army centres in Brussels.

However, the Community Kitchen offers more than just food. In recent months, the organisation has been able to offer volunteering contracts to refugees to volunteer in the Kitchen, under which it is possible to pay a modest volunteering allowance. So far, six refugees have benefited from this scheme. You can read two of their stories below.

‘Joe*, a refugee from Cameroon, was spending his days wandering around Brussels as there was barely any work available to him. He now volunteers in the kitchen at almost every session. We pay him €30 a week under a volunteer contract. He also has access to the meals we prepare and some of the donated food that he can take and use himself. He tells us that volunteering with the kitchen has transformed his life. He regards the kitchen as his workplace and feels that he is doing something worthwhile.  He is a very gregarious and friendly guy, so he enjoys the social aspects. And through his contacts at the kitchen he has been given the opportunity to do other small paid jobs.’

‘Anna* is a refugee from Iran. With no access to secure housing and work, her mental health had deteriorated. She suffers from anxiety and other health issues caused by her precarious situation. She reports that it is only when she is working in the kitchen that she feels relaxed and content. She volunteers regularly and receives the €30 allowance. Through contacts made at the kitchen, she has also now found a secure place to live.’

The Community Kitchen hopes to offer several more volunteering contracts to people in need over the next few months. Alongside paid volunteers, the Community Kitchen has seen a surge in unpaid volunteers offering to help. Thanks to the volunteering app, servenow, anyone wanting to volunteer in Brussels can find out about the Community Kitchen.

Preparing the food in the Community Kitchen

Increasing the amount of food and number of volunteering opportunities hasn’t been without difficulties. Gayl explains: ‘The logistical challenge of producing so much food means we have had to replace our ovens and buy additional industrial sized equipment. It has also been a challenge to continue to run the project on a voluntary basis. Given the scale of our operation, we need to employ a part time kitchen manager to run the weekday cooking sessions. We are currently investigating how to do this with the funds we have available.’

We pray for wisdom for the Holy Trinity Community Kitchen as they continue to serve vulnerable people with complex needs. May they be guided by God in all they do.

*The names used in this piece are not these people’s real names