22 February 2018

In collaboration with local mental health charity Head High, and corporate and community organisations from across the county, YMCA Derbyshire is offering meals for no charge at its London Road Campus on the last Friday of every month.

Launched in October 2017, these Meals offer a rare opportunity for individuals, families, community groups and businesses to come together, and get to know one another whilst enjoying delicious dishes prepared by YMCA Derbyshire residents, learners and staff, or guest chefs.

The Meals have been a huge success so far, with more than 80 people attending the most recent one in January. The simple act of bringing together individuals from all walks of life, regardless of beliefs or means, is a powerful one. Indeed, at one Meal, a local lady who had walked past the YMCA Campus for more than four years and had always been intrigued to have a coffee in the Café, saw a flyer, took the brave step to come by herself, and said it was one of the best decisions she had taken.

Gillian Sewell, CEO YMCA Derbyshire, said: “Our mission here is to provide a welcoming space and nourishing food. Through the simple act of sharing a meal, we can inspire community and forge strong connections. We are pleased to be partnering with Head High, and I’d like to thank everyone who has been a part of any of the Meals to date.”

Amanda Solloway, who founded Head High, said: “There are times in our life when we can feel alone or lonely and it can be so difficult to get out and meet people, I know what’s its like to stand outside a building afraid to go in alone. So we at HeadHigh started this joint venture with the YMCA to say to people ‘come along, join us for some good  food and welcoming company… ‘One small act of kindness can send ripples throughout the community’”

Sam Thorogood, Communications Officer Upbeat Communities, said: “We’re looking forward to serving the community with some of our international friends!”

The next Meal will run from 12:30pm on Friday 23 February, and anyone is welcome to attend. Upbeat Communities, a charity that welcomes refugees and supports them to thrive in their new home, will be managing the kitchen and front-of-house. Derbyshire County Cricket Club, Tesco and Derby County Community Trust will also be supporting the Meal.