Representatives of the Bath Square Meals Project have taken part in a virtual Civic Reception hosted by the Mayor of Bath, Councillor Manda Rigby.
They included members of the Freemasons’ Committee, two local charities, Mercy in Action and Sporting Family Change, and staff of Bath & North East Somerset Council, who have all contributed to the project over the last year.
During that time, the charities and centres have distributed more than 25,000 two-course meals to vulnerable local families, free at the point of delivery. To fund this, Bath and Somerset Freemasons have raised more than £60,000 entirely from within their organisation. That funding will enable the project to run until the end of May this year, thus delivering a further 7,500 meals.
Malcolm Toogood, from the Committee, explained to the Mayor that when their regular meetings were suspended by the pandemic last March, Bath Freemasons looked for another way of continuing their normal charitable activities. With a fully-equipped commercial kitchen standing unused, they decided to provide frozen ready-meals to vulnerable isolated adults and underprivileged children in Bath and the surrounding area.
Their chef, Ben Hayward, evolved recipes for wholesome meals, but delivery was an issue, as many local Masons who would normally volunteer, were themselves vulnerable in the circumstances. So they contacted David Dixon, of B&NES Community Engagement Team, who put them together with the two local charities and the Council’s own Children’s Centres in Foxhill, Keynsham and Radstock.
The Mayor responded, “What you have achieved is truly remarkable. On behalf of the City of Bath, I am humbled and honoured to thank you. It demonstrates what can be done when we all work together. You should all be very proud of yourselves.”
Jimmy Deane of Sporting Family Change said “The frozen meals scheme has been fantastic as it has enabled Sporting Family Change to support local families who are struggling most with the Covid-19 pandemic. They have had access to healthy nutritious meals without having to leave their homes. Many families have said it has made a huge difference, reducing anxiety and stress levels as they have stayed safe in their homes, plus giving the feeling they are not facing the pandemic alone.”