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Love and Light

Region 1 - Youth Service Activity

This service for many years has been provided on a monthly basis by the various centres and groups in region 1, the youth of the region have now taken on board to provide this service 3 to 4 times a year and this is a youth’s experience of their first time involved in this activity:

Spires is a charitable organisation based in the South London area. It is a community based project which reaches out to the homeless and the needy. The actual headquarters is a community hall adjoining to St Leonards Church and not too far from the hustle and bustle of Streatham town.

As you enter the hall, you immediately see the care and attention the volunteers bring to the place with lovely window plants and books lining the perimeter. A friendly atmosphere is very noticeable.

The kitchen is at the rear of the hall and is spacious with ample work surface area. We are first introduced to a seasoned veteran who has agreed, as this being the youths first time carrying out this service activity, to guide us on what to do, how to do it and what not to do starting with a few health and safety rules and briefly runs through the process of making the main dish of the day which will be a vegetarian curry. In total there are seven of us, and after donning aprons we head straight to our stations and start preparing the vegetables. We start off with the onions, chopping them finely which provides the base for this soon to be sumptuous curry.

The main cooking pot is what you would call a ‘banquet size’ pot and the aim is to feed approximately 120 people.

Already there is a buzz in the air as everyone is getting stuck into their various tasks. Soon we hear the sizzle of the onions frying gently over a low heat with one of the volunteers stirring continuously with a long handled wooden spoon.

The rest of the ingredients are then added, chopped tomatoes, mixed vegetables and the special spices flown all the way from India. Pretty soon a lovely aroma wafts around the kitchen enveloping those standing by and initiating mouth watering taste sensations. As the curry bubbles away we all stand back to take a break to make our introductions as we sip on the delicious spiced tea brought in by the coordinator. After an interesting but brief chat we all got back to the task in hand. We peer into the pot and we see a beautiful rich curry dotted with the colours of the mixed vegetables. The curry is ready to be ladled carefully into the individual serving trays and the cleaning operation began in earnest.

This experience has been wonderful knowing that some people will be getting a decent hot meal. It is something that many of us can take for granted. There are many, young and old, in our communities struggling to make ends meet, with rising costs of food amongst other things. So we can all try our best to give back to the community not only with financial help but with our time as well.

Hema Iyavoo - Region 1 Youth