4 December 2018

In collaboration with local mental health charity HeadHigh, and corporate and community organisations from across the county, YMCA Derbyshire is celebrating preparing and serving more than 1000 community meals over the last twelve months.   

Launched in October 2017, monthly community meals at YMCA Derbyshire’s London Road Campus offer a rare opportunity for individuals, families, community groups and businesses to come together on the last Friday of every month, and get to know one another whilst enjoying delicious dishes prepared by residents, learners and staff, or guest chefs.

The meals have been a huge success so far. The simple act of individuals from all walks of life, regardless of beliefs or means, is a powerful one. Local partners who have kindly supported a meal so far include The Derbyshire Network, Derbyshire County Cricket Club, Hodgkinson’s Builders, Babington Group, Upbeat Communities, Derby City Mission, Trent Barton, NCS, Baird Group, ISPB and The University of Derby.

Friday 30 November marked one year of community meals, with Santander and Derbyshire County Cricket Club sponsoring the food and refreshments, and supporting on the day itself. Derby County Community Trust, with whom YMCA Derbyshire has an established partnership, kindly led a pre-meal community walk.

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. Our partnership with HeadHigh has strengthened over the past year, and I’d like to thank everyone who has prepared, served, or attended one of our meals. Without HeadHigh this never would have happened, and we hope to continue offering our free monthly meals for years to come as we have seen just how valuable they are.”

Amanda Solloway, who founded HeadHigh, said: ““Wow – where did a year go? It’s just amazing how the meal brings the community together and we are indebted to YMCA Derbyshire who support this idea. The focus behind HeadHigh is to try and tackle the stigma that often goes with mental ill health and the meals are just great places for people from all walks of life to come along, give each other support and eat great food.”

Ryan Duckett, Interim Chief Executive at Derbyshire County Cricket Club, said: Derbyshire County Cricket Club are delighted to support YMCA Derbyshire and Headhigh in their community dinner programme. They do excellent work in the community year-round and we are proud to support this project once again this year. I know Matt Critchley and Alex Hughes thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the residents and guests and I hope we can offer our support again near the future.”