EastEnder Serves Christmas Lunch at Ealing Soup Kithen

Local MP Rupa Huq's joined by actor Nitin Ganatra and other volunteers

As a longstanding but comparatively little-known Ealing institution for over 40 years, Ealing Soup Kitchen continued one of its annual traditions by putting on a Christmas lunch for Ealing’s homeless and those simply without family – and it wasn’t just soup that was on the menu. A full Christmas lunch was offered with turkey and all the trimmings served up by Julian of Ealing Green Baptist church, local chef Herman who at the session in chef’s whites and a team of ever changing volunteers who began the cooking at 9am that day and served until 9pm.

Among those of duty was Nitin Ganatra better known to millions as Masood from Eastenders who revealed that he had been on the way to visit a children’s hospice so decided to muck in. He was given drying duties and I cleared away.

Whilst foodbanks serve as a very visible reminder of how many go hungry in Britain in 2016, Ealing Soup Kitchen long predates this more recent phenomenon and was founded back in 1974 initially serving soup from a van before upgrading to St John’s Church in Mattock Lane Ealing. Demand initially was relatively low, but numbers have risen significantly to the point that typically there are now 60-80 guests at a session, ordinarily on a Saturday and Sunday where hot meals are served on a drop in basis with an open-door policy for all guests be it that have complex problems or are simply lonely and attend for warmth, comfort and to socialise. Various local churches take it in turns to provide volunteer staff: on Christmas day it was the turn of the Ealing Green Baptist church.

It was not the first time a member of the Eastenders cast has dropped in unexpectedly to an Ealing community event in recent years. In 2012 Barbara Windsor who plays Peggy Mitchell came to the Jubilee street party held by York Road just down Northfields Avenue from St John’s church.

Among other services offered by Ealing Soup Kitchen are the Homeless Drop In Centre every Friday at St Johns Crypt where clothes and advice on housing and social security are both offered free of charge in a café setting and the similar Monday night hub.

It was fun to be part of Julian’s amazing team and feed dozens throughout the afternoon. Christmas day is a day that no person should be alone for and we served some familiar faces known to be from doing my weekly advice surgeries in Ealing and Acton. Sadly given the government’s ever more punitive tax and benefit policies it seems that my surgery queues and those using excellent services that our churches provide such at Ealing Soup Kitchen, Ealing Foodbank and Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter will continue to be ever-lengthening. There is a sense that it’s all well and good to volunteer on Christmas Day but services like this need our help all year round, not just fore Christmas!

Ealing Soup Kitchen runs entirely on donations. To add yours go to http://www.ealingsoupkitchen.org/get-involved-.html

They are always looking for unwanted wearable clothes for the Friday hub and volunteers for the Monday evening hub – details again are in the link.

Rupa Huq
Ealing Central and Acton MP



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3rd January 2017

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