Food for the soul: UK Windrush generation volunteers deliver meals to hundreds

Group provides elderly and vulnerable people with traditional Caribbean meals during pandemic

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Volunteers from the UK's Windrush community are serving hundreds of meals to the elderly and vulnerable during the pandemic.

The initiative, run by Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants group in the north of England, began a year ago with the hope of feeding 20 people a week.

Volunteers are now feeding more than 400 elderly and vulnerable people a week with Caribbean favourites from jerk pork and curried goat to cow foot soup.

Glenda Andrew co-founded the group two years ago to help fight for the rights of early immigrants from the Caribbean and other former British colonies who were threatened with deportation.

The Windrush generation, named after the ship that carried the first migrants from the Caribbean in 1948, came to Britain in response to a government call for workers from throughout the empire to help rebuild the country after the Second World War.

But in 2018 the Windrush scandal rocked Britain amid a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Some long-term residents lost their jobs, homes and the right to free medical care because many arrived as children and could not produce paperwork to prove their right to live in the UK.

Some were detained and an unknown number deported to countries they barely remembered.

When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, Ms Andrew created a soul-food kitchen, which is now run by group members.

“It’s a great way to connect and build relationships but I did not know that at the time,” she said.

"I just knew that I wanted to do something and make sure that people were getting a hot meal – not sandwiches – getting something that they’re accustomed to eating, and hoped that they would enjoy it.”

She created a traditional menu tailored to the tastes of the people who raised her.

“They brought us up, they’ve taught us so many things. They gave up their life in the Caribbean to come here," she said.

Sylius Toussaint, 81, who arrived from Dominica in 1960, said chatting with volunteers like Dave Williams helped as much as the food.

“They say hello and give you a meal, and maybe for just a few seconds at least you see someone new, someone you haven’t seen all week,” he said. “If you are on your own, it is so nice to see a fresh face – especially bringing gifts.”

The project, run from a kitchen in a community centre, is funded by donations.