Appeal for volunteers as Newham meal service launches

PUBLISHED: 17:03 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 01 October 2020

Manzoor Ahmed of Fusion Foods gives meals to Free My Meal Newham volunteer Daniell Hambrook. Picture: Miheala Cris

Manzoor Ahmed of Fusion Foods gives meals to Free My Meal Newham volunteer Daniell Hambrook. Picture: Miheala Cris


A service offering struggling families meals has been launched in the borough.

Daniell gives mum of three Karine Amiryan meals. Picture: Rio HambrookDaniell gives mum of three Karine Amiryan meals. Picture: Rio Hambrook

Free My Meal Newham aims to put people in need of a meal, but who don’t have the means of preparing or buying it, in touch with those who are willing to cook extra.

Daniell Hambrook, who started Newham’s group, said: “This is about helping people in need. People often want to help, but don’t always know how.

“But a lot of people cook and it’s nice to share – especially if sharing different dishes between cultures – and continue the amazing community spirit that got us through the first wave of the coronavirus.”

Based on trust and goodwill, Free My Meal sees people sign up to either cook or collect a meal via local Facebook groups. The non-profit doesn’t provide dishes, but puts participants in touch with each other.

Anyone can sign up to the service which has 19 groups in the UK. There are even chapters in Australia and the Philipines. Newham’s group has 141 members to date.

The scheme has won the support of celebrities including Louis Tomlinson and Nigella Lawson who described it as “a great initiative”.

Daniell predicts that demand for a home cooked meal could soar with redundancies increasing because of Covid-19’s impact on the economy, but for some asking for help could be hard.

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“People shouldn’t feel any stigma in asking for help,” she said.

She added that with a five week-long wait until universal credit kicks in, the service could provide a valuable lifeline to those in need.

“There are so many people out there who have never had to ask, or don’t know where to turn,” Daniell said.

Mother of three, Karine Amiryan, said: “Thank you to Free My Meal. The kindness and generosity have helped me a lot. Knowing someone cares has really cheered me up.”

Guildford based Hayley Steere, who set up the scheme, said: “Anyone can join with no fear of judgement or discrimination.”

The idea for Free My Meals came about while Hayley was making a batch of chilli for her family.

She said: “I began thinking about how things may have been different had I still been a single parent family and struggling to survive during the current climate.”

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