Scallywags Nursery in East London has been preparing hot meals for the homeless to teach children how to share and help others. The nursery sets aside time every Monday to donate a variety of meals to a night shelter, which belongs to the local charity Hope4Havering.
Emma Reynolds, the owner of the nursery, become involved with helping the shelter after she noticed there was a sharp rise in homelessness in Havering and looking online for ways she could help. She made contact with Hope4Havering and started volunteering one night a week with her son.
She said: “The children and families at Scallywags Nursery have really got behind this cause. Each Monday the children bring in some of the ingredients ready to cook a nutritious meal for the residents at Hope4Havering.
“It gives the children an understanding of their community and helps them to be kind to others.”
Hidden homelessness is high in London; in the UK homelessness affects 400,000 people at any given time. Most of these people exist out of sight in hostels, temporary accommodation like B&Bs, sofa-surfing, squatting and living in conditions of severe overcrowding.
Around three years ago, Ms Reynolds and her son also started collecting bedding and blankets to give to those who need them on the streets of London.
After she saw an increase in people living on the streets, she again got in touch with Hope4Havering to see if the nursery could offer any extra help.
The charity is now five years old and provides accommodation for the night, hot meals, advice and can help people move into permanent accommodation. The charity now receives meals almost every week from the nursery.
The children help create the meals with the nursery staff; these meals can range from Shepherd’s pie and sausage casserole, to vegetable soup and samosas.
The children have not yet been able to visit the shelter, but they have been shown pictures of people eating their food.
Kim Merry, a local resident and founder of Hope4Havering, has said that the charity is always looking for volunteers and donations to help keep them running.
At this time, Hope4Havering has to travel from church to church every evening as they do not yet have a permanent location. This also means they have to transport beds, food and belongings.
Welcoming the nursery’s ‘heart-warming generosity’ Ms Merry said: “I think it’s incredible that the children at Scallywags Nursery are helping the residents at the charity.
“It’s important that they also develop an awareness of the needs of the world around them from an early age.”
Hope4Havering is a local registered charity serving the homeless community in Havering. For further information on the charity go to: www.hope4havering.org.