The Bevy bites back against food poverty

Hot on the heels of our Summer Enewsletter, a wonderful article from Helen Jones about the Meals on Wheels scheme set up at The Bevy community pub.  The project was created to give much needed support to regular users of The Bevy who can no longer venture out for hot meals.  Here Helen reflects on the last eleven weeks in lockdown as a small army of volunteers come together to cook and distribute food to the community.

On Tuesday 17th March we cancelled ‘Bridge the Gap’ weekly lunch and activity club due to Covid19. Later the same day the Bevy Committee made the rather momentous decision to close The Bevy Pub for the foreseeable future. An hour later we had agreed to start our Bevy Meals on Wheels delivery service that Friday and so on the 20th March we sent out our first 18 meals.

Being The Bevy, with our connections into the local community and our established kitchen and relationship with FareShare we were able to hit the ground running. Running two weekly Lunch Clubs and a Dementia club we were well aware of the existing social isolation and loneliness among local seniors. So we did a ring around to see who would like a meal during the lockdown period, especially since over 70’s had been advised to stay indoors and maintain social distance.

We quickly gained more ‘customers’ as the word got around and now have a more diverse group of local residents on our delivery lists. As well as our ‘known seniors’ we are serving individuals and families with health and financial issues, some of whom have self-referred and others have come to us via our links to the local schools, church and be-friending services. We’re serving on average of 150 meals a week now over three days.

It has been a steep learning curve as we moved from serving beer to delivering meals exclusively. The Chefs have been supportive and instrumental to putting Hygiene regimes in place and we’ve worked together to ensure we work safely and in line with Covid19 guidelines. ‘Bevy Meals on Wheels’ would NOT be possible without the dedication, hard work and humour of a wonderful group of volunteers. Between them they ensure the high standards of hygiene are maintained, deliveries of food are received and processed, food is prepared and cooked and finally delivered still piping hot to local residents living in the Lewes Rd corridor.

As well as the team of front-line volunteers who ensure we can physically serve 150+ meals a week there is also the dedicated team called ‘The Bevy Committee’. The un-sung volunteers, who work behind the scenes, some having to socially isolate themselves or because of their family’s health, but nethertheless working to support the rest of us get fresh food to those who need it. Between them they have kept things on track, supporting furloughed staff, appling for grants, inspiring people to donate, keeping the story live and in the forefront of people’s minds. In addition to all that we’re also planning a facelift so that The Bevy will be a welcoming place once we can finally re-open.

How that will look, who and what will we serve and when??? All these things need to be considered.  If we are ever to open as a pub again how will we protect our staff and customers, how can we run lunch and darts clubs? What should we concentrate on? who is going to need us most? There’s a feeling that as well as being a pub and serving the beer that everyone is thirsting for – especially in this heat – we will need to re-invent ourselves to survive. Going forward I’m confident that ‘The Bevy’ will continue to serve the needs of the community and be so much ‘more than a pub’.

For more information visit The Bevy’s website page.  And if you’re worried about getting enough food, find support via Brighton & Hove Food Partnership’s website pages.

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