HarissaKitchenRescue Christmas emergency appeal

by Food Nation and Harissa Kitchen in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 8th January 2021 we successfully raised £10,410 with 92 supporters in 28 days

Help us save our vital food insecurity, poverty and free meals work supporting Newcastle's most vulnerable people this Christmas & into 2021

by Food Nation and Harissa Kitchen in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

If we raise £10,000 we hope to match this with £5,000 from our local LEP. Raising an extra £20,000 would enable us to continue to provide meals until the end of March 2021, when we hope most of the people we support will be vaccinated. 

1607351000_photo-2020-11-30-18-22-34_2.jpgWho are we?

I'm Jamie Sadler, the MD of Harissa Kitchen, a social enterprise restaurant in Newcastle upon Tyne, part of Food Nation Community Interest Company (CIC). We're a well-respected social enterprise that has been working with families and some of the poorest communities in Newcastle upon Tyne for over 20 years, helping people make healthy food choices and improve their wellbeing. We're devastated to learn this week that our core funding from Newcastle City Council will stop early next year due to COVID-19. We are, however determined to keep going - and we've got some great ideas for next year that will not only continue our work, but improve it and help even more people make healthy food choices. 

We have survived the closure of our popular community restaurant Harissa Kitchen due to the pandemic. In addition, our work with schools in Walker, Byker, Wallsend and across the city stopped overnight. By going back to basics and our key principles, we looked for ways to help support our Newcastle community through this crisis and succeeded. We launched an emergency free meals service for vulnerable people during the first lockdown and were overwhelmed by the support we received from our customers and fellow Geordies. We cooked/delivered 11,424 high quality, nutritionally balanced meals to the most vulnerable people locally and delivered 11,680 meals via Recipe Kits to 84 families. It was a lot of work, but our fantastic team of volunteers and staff saw us through. We also built on and expanded our digital cookery school offer, including offering family friendly free Recipe Kits and supporting our Newcastle Food Poverty members to continue our vital work feeding and supporting Newcastle's most vulnerable people.

Our work is really important - and we are determined to keep flying the flag for healthy, nutritious and sustainable food - available to all. 

How are we going to do this?

First - our priority is to continue to provide 8,000 free meals to the most vulnerable this Christmas and into the New Year. Read below what our plans are, and how we're going to keep going despite our problems. That's because, the people we are helping are more in need than us.

Second - we're going to keep fighting to keep our work going into 2021. We've received national recognition for our Men's Pie Club, working to combat levels of suicide and poor mental health for local lads. We're going to launch commercial pies  (watch this space) and expand our work to help more men meet friends, become less isolated and learn to cook (and eat) pies together. A simple idea, but one that really works.

Third - we are just putting final plans together to bring our cookery school (covering both commercial and low-income families/people) into a new and exciting programme. Offering both digital and face to face (when we can) cooking opportunities based around skills development, nutrition and healthy food on a low-income, fuel poverty basis. 

Our mission - to enable Newcastle people make healthier food choices and provide a brighter future for themselves and their families. 

We really need your help to achieve this.

Our free meals to the vulnerable this Christmas

Due to Newcastle being placed in Tier 3, we have been asked to repeat this service again over Christmas and into the New Year. We've learnt from our first round of support and are now offering frozen meals - just as nutritious and tasty but easier to transport and deliver. Which means we can help more people across the city and provide emergency support over the weekend too for people in need. Each person will receive 6 days free food (lunch + evening meal) at a food cost of £4 per day.

We will also provide Recipe Kits to vulnerable families each week in the most deprived areas of Newcastle East. Recipe Kits empower families to make good food choices now, and in the future, and become less dependent on emergency provision. These will be either delivered to people’s homes or to our food poverty partners (Vineyard Food Bank; West End Food Bank; Heaton Baptist Church Community).

During Christmas week, we will double our food deliveries to help families and people most in need. To add a little bit of Christmas cheer, we will deliver festive meals and food hampers.

Some people are in need of ongoing help whilst others need one-off support whilst waiting for delivery slots with supermarkets or for newly unemployed to receive benefits.

In total we are aiming to provide at least 8,000 free meals - if we can raise the money to do this. We've already received money from DEFRA and UNICEF to support our vital work. But we still need more.

Why is your help needed?

Here's some of the reasons why we are still going to help people this Christmas - despite our own problems. As we all know, Christmas can be a really hard time for people who are on their own, or struggling financially or health wise. COVID-19 has been a miserable year for everyone, but for the vulnerable this has been a particularly difficult time. These are all genuine quotes from people who received support during our first campaign and they, together with people like them are still vulnerable and in need now.

  • 'I'm visually impaired and autistic. I also have depression, anxiety and Diabetes Type 2. I'm having difficulties getting medication and food and can't get an online delivery slot.' Free meal recipient
  • 'Me and my 9yr old daughter both have symptoms of COVID 19 and need to self isolate. I need help to get food. I have financial difficulties and am struggling to manage as my next Universal Credit isn't due until 14th April. I don't have enough money to pay for my gas and electric.' Free meal recipient
  • 'She has no food at home and has a young daughter and I feel she needs priority. She does not receive any benefits and relies solely on food banks.' Free meal member or public referrer
  • ‘Words cannot explain how difficult it would have been for me & my daughter without the meals. It’s been a great help, means a lot, makes our day & we are so very, very grateful.’ Free meal recipient
  • ‘My child is tube fed and eats very little so having a fun activity to do together around food is really beneficial for her especially since she's a child in shielding. She does not cope with going to organised activities so this gives her the opportunity to take part without the anxiety of being there.’ Recipe Kit recipient
  • 'Has been immensely helpful. I struggle to cook because standing for too long is hard with my MS. The meals also mean I get fresh veg & fruit in my diet which is really important.' Female meal recipient shielding with lung cancer and MS, who lives alone, has limited support and is unemployed. Free meal recipient
  • ‘Each Thursday we look forward to our kit being delivered and my 2 year old is always excited to start making. We love making them as a family and our 2 year old always eats more when she has helped (both during and after cooking). It is also really nice to have such a lovely, friendly lady deliver them each week since we have no family near by so haven't really seen anyone with lockdown.’ Recipe Kit recipient

    The food is chef prepared, providing varied and nutritionally balanced meals and will be delivered by staff and volunteers. All food preparation and delivery will fully comply with the Government’s Covid-19 food safety and working standards. Additional meals and food hampers will be provided over Christmas to support families most at need.

    The scheme will be publicised through the local COVID-19 support Citylife Line Service, local mutual aid support groups, food poverty partners and on social media with a strict criteria to make sure our support goes to people that need it the most.

What your money will be used for

Please give what you can to help us. The following fundraising targets show how your support can help us prepare, cook and deliver healthy, nutritious and tasty food to people most in need this Christmas across Newcastle. 

  • £4 will provide a nutritious, healthy meal
  • £8 will provide a lunch and dinner 
  • £10 will provide a Recipe Kit meal for a family of four
  • £25 will provide a Recipe Kit meal for a family of four plus 4 meals
  • £50 will provide 24 meals for vulnerable people
  • £100 will provide 48 meals for vulnerable people or 10 Recipe Kits (40 meals) for families in need

We aim to keep delivering food well into the New Year if we raise enough. Any additional funds will go towards helping us reshape our future - and develop new sources of income. 

Your generosity will help people who need a little helping hand (and us) to weather the storm. 

Thank you for supporting us.


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