Local businesses have been invited to join science company Lubrizol in supporting a valuable Derby County Football Club-backed project giving a hot meal to hundreds of people struggling under the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Derby County Community Trust (DCCT) is marking a year of its highly valued project giving weekly hot meals throughout autumn and winter to people who are suffering for a range of reasons in a society that is currently seeing soaring food, energy and mortgage costs.
The scheme, which launched in November 2022, sees between 50 and 60 people a week invited through referrals to enjoy a hot meal prepared Derby County Football Club chefs. Businesses sponsor the cost of the meal and their employees are invited to volunteer serve it too.
So far the project – backed with city council funding connected with the warm spaces scheme – has helped feed hundreds of people throughout Derby, including families struggling to feed children in half term; Ukrainian refugees; members of the homeless community; people with dementia and many others.
Meals are served at Harrison’s Hub, a café space formerly occupied by Starbucks which is now run by the Community Trust to offer its wide range of activities.
Lubrizol, a global science company with a Derbyshire headquarters based at Hazelwood, is a corporate partner of Derbyshire County Community Trust and has also sponsored its STEM learning scheme involving Sphero robots which is being offered to Derby school children to teach them about computer programming.
The company sponsored one of DCCT’s community meals and employees Tom Grazier, Claire Hollingshurst and Rachel Ollier turned out to help serve it. All three are members of Lubrizol’s charities and communities committee which gives thousands of pounds to many worthy causes throughout the year.
Rachel said: “We really enjoyed coming down to Harrison’s Hub at Derby County Football Club to help serve one of these community meals. But it was also very sobering to appreciate the need that many people in our community currently have for a service such as this.
“On the night we sponsored, there were lots of people there and it was clear how much they were looking forward to having a hot meal. It would be great if more businesses could come forward and support this much-needed scheme.”
Now DCCT is looking for businesses to help support the scheme from early 2024.
Pete Collins, DCCT business development manager, said: “We get different groups of people coming each week to our meals, although we do have some regular people we invite from our local homeless community too.
“There’s a growing need for the service we are providing. There are lots of health inequalities in Derby, and lots of social and economic inequalities that we are seeing too, all of which were compounded through Covid.
“There are more and more people going down into the lower end of these social economic groups and these health inequalities. It’s a growing issue and it’s a concerning issue, involving more members of the public than people perhaps realise.
“We’re extremely grateful to Lubrizol who have supported not just one of our meals but also our Sphero robot programme too. Their support is wonderful.
“Being one of our trust partners and sponsoring a weekly meal involves being attached to a very community minded programme. We are looking for businesses to support us from January onwards.”