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Ingredients for Independence

a day with SHP Rachel House

City Harvest delivers to a wide range of organisations that serve meals to vulnerable individuals. We are always moved by the commitment of staff at these facilities to help individuals face challenges and rebuild lives. Our Food for Thought writer, Saul, pays a visit to SHP Rachel House to meet their dedicated support workers.

City Harvest regularly delivers food to such a facility, SHP Rachel House, which provides a safe and steady environment and gives residents the platform needed to organise themselves and take practical steps back to a functional life in society.

Last week, the public was granted access to the annual open day held at Rachel House. Living there are 16 residents who have been referred to this facility with mental health issues. This included residents in recovery or learning to cope with schizophrenia, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic depression.

At the open day the staff showcased a beautiful spread of food that they had prepared in the hostel kitchen with the fresh ingredients a City Harvest van had delivered earlier that morning.

On the stove was support worker Sibhoan Martin who was brewing a leak and potato soup. Meanwhile support worker Selina Thompson was stirring up a jug of sweet lemonade.

Selina explained that the Rachel House hostel depends on the City Harvest food donations to create healthy, square meals where the residents get the chance to eat together, which are important social occasions that break their isolation and prepare them for living with others on the outside.

She said: ‘We also use the fresh ingredients donated by City Harvest to run our cooking classes. In these lessons we help residents to compile a portfolio of dishes they can confidently prepare on their own and that are filed in personal folders. They learn how to improvise with the ever changing ingredients we have available through the donations we receive. We use this situation to train residents on low income the life skill of improvising with whatever ingredients they have in the cupboard to nourish themselves for the challenges they face to take control of their lives again.

‘The simple activity of creating their own meals that they can taste and enjoy afterwards is an inspiring lesson. It gives the residents confidence and hope for a future where they can overcome the adversity of their situation feed themselves and others. So City Harvest food donations really helps us to run our services that see people take steps towards the end goal of moving on from us to support themselves and embracing social situations like eating with others,’ said Selina.

Alongside cooking lessons at Rachel House the staff provide classes to coach residents in other essential life skills they will need. Subjects range from budgeting, paying bills, planning, and developing independence in their self-care. The staff also provide guidance to help residents reconnect with social networks of family and friends and guide them towards education that might provide useful skills. All these activities lead their beneficiaries towards choices and opportunities that ultimately help people to turn the course of their lives around. Congratulations Rachel House on the great job you are doing and lives you are changing.

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