‘It was the best meal I’ve had in three years,’ is the feedback from one diner at a homeless hostel in Doncaster who enjoyed a Sunday lunch cooked by two volunteers during the pandemic.
Residents at Open House Plus on College Road were pleased that their annual Easter dinner went ahead as usual during the lockdown, all thanks to Les Oakes and Neil Smith who stepped up to the challenge despite admitting that they are not experienced cooks!
The budding chefs prepared dinner for 30 people at the supported housing service, but came armed with pot noodles just in case it all went wrong.
Les, 63, from Manchester, said: “We are not the best of cooks so we were worried in case the dinner got burnt, so as a back-up we bought 30 pot noodles. Thankfully everything went to plan and residents enjoyed the meals.
“Some residents commented it was the best dinner they’ve had in a long time and came back for seconds, which was great to hear and the best part was that it put a smile on their faces.
“It was a challenge cooking for 30 people, although satisfying that we did something worthwhile. We were very humbled by the experience.”
The Sunday dinner was a resounding success with residents asking for seconds!
Sean Leighton said: “It was a lovely and tasted delicious, I had two dinners and I would have had another one if I could.”
While Andy Jones added: “It was the best meal I’ve had in three years.”
Katie Hanmer-Walton, Service Manager at Open House, continued: “Every Easter we have cooked a Sunday dinner, as well as at Christmas time and other occasions, so it was important for us to continue the event to maintain some sort of normality for residents as they were looking forward to it.
“We’re very grateful to Les and Neil for coming to the rescue as it brought everyone together while adhering to social distancing. It certainly helped with people struggling with isolation and new customers coming into the service.”
Les and Neil work for Evolve which is Riverside’s repairs and maintenance operations.
While the Government imposed restrictions are in place and everyone adheres to social distancing, only essential emergency repair work is being carried out. As a result Evolve and Riverside Direct staff across the country have been redeployed to support colleagues working in our retirement living schemes and supported housing services during the coronavirus lockdown.
Their work has been a much-needed helpline to support Riverside’s schemes and services, including residents. Activities carried out include delivering PPE supplies, picking up and dropping off shopping and prescriptions for residents, helping with welfare checks, carrying out health and safety checks at schemes, cleaning communal areas, on-site repairs and tidying gardens.