Refugee Community Kitchen: Andi Oliver launches appeal to help feed London rough sleepers this winter

Refugee Community Kitchen has distributed millions of meals since launching in the capital in 2016.
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Great British Menu presenter Andi Oliver has joined forces with a Camden based charity to help feed rough sleepers in London this winter.

Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK) has been serving food and kindness to rough sleepers and refugees in London since 2016.

The charity distributes thousands of meals every year in different locations around the capital and has won a number of prestigious awards, including the Observer Food Monthly’s outstanding achievement award.

It also serves up around 1,500 meals a day to displaced people living in Calais and Dunkirk, northern France.

This winter RCK is hoping to raise £60,000 to help support refugees in Calais and rough sleepers and refugees in London.

Andi Oliver joined volunteers at Refugee Community Kitchen’s London base in Gospel OakAndi Oliver joined volunteers at Refugee Community Kitchen’s London base in Gospel Oak
Andi Oliver joined volunteers at Refugee Community Kitchen’s London base in Gospel Oak

To help launch the winter appeal celebrity chef and RCK trustee Andi Oliver joined volunteers in the Gospel Oak kitchen to cook up a storm for London service users.

“Winter is coming, it’s the freezing months, and if you’re sleeping outside imagine the horror of that,” said Oliver.

“Please think about people who are outside right through this bitterly cold winter right here in London.

“There are people that we step over everyday on our way to work, on the way to the coffee shop, on the way to meet a friend for a drink in the pub. Take a moment to think about how you can help.”

For her Refugee Community kitchen special menu, Oliver cooked coconut chicken curry, onion cashew and squash rice and peach and ginger crumble alongside a team of volunteers.

Refugee Community Kitchen was founded by Janie Mac, Steve Stavrinides, Paula Gallardo and Sam Jones, during a trip to Calais in December 2015.

They turned up to cook a meal and within two weeks they had found themselves a warehouse. They served 2,000 meals during their first distribution and the kitchen has been there ever since.

The following year, the group decided to set up an outreach service in London, the first one being in Camden and others followed quite quickly.

RCK is currently operating six weekly distributions in London and one in Edinburgh.

Refugee Community Kitchen co-founder Janie Macintyre. Credit: RCKRefugee Community Kitchen co-founder Janie Macintyre. Credit: RCK
Refugee Community Kitchen co-founder Janie Macintyre. Credit: RCK

Co-founder Janie Mac previously told LondonWorld she would like to see an outreach outside every Tube station.

Mac said that the success of the operation is down to the team of volunteers.

“I think the hard work, love and labour that normal people are willing to put in to provide for vulnerable people is something that just knocks me out all of the time,” she said.

“One of our resounding successes has been the way that volunteers come in and come out but we manage to maintain such a high quality standard of food.

“The fact that we sell it on the quality of our food is what makes us stand out.”

The Refugee Community Kitchen uses surplus food donated by the Felix Project, local restaurants and food companies to cook high quality healthy and nutritious meals.

“We put food out in our outreach services that people would be happy to have on their tables,” Mac said.

“That quality is what we aim for all the time.

“Why would someone on the street not deserve a meal that you and I would have?”

People from all walks of life attend the weekly services in Camden, Goodge Street, Old Street, Brixton, Archway and Kentish Town.

“We’re learning more and more that this isn’t just about homeless people, this is about people in food poverty, people with mental health issues, people who are lonely, people who don’t know how to cook,” says Mac.

“It literally caters for so many things. We’re spreading kindness through food.”

To help support the work of the Refugee Community Kitchen you can make a donation to their winter appeal, sign up to volunteer or shop online for branded merchandise.