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Here to Help: The woman ensuring the vulnerable get a hot meal

PUBLISHED: 16:29 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:29 09 April 2020

Elaine Payne, owner of TLC Dinner Choices. Picture: Elaine Payne

Elaine Payne, owner of TLC Dinner Choices. Picture: Elaine Payne

Archant

Amid the coronavirus lockdown, Vauxhall Community Hub in Norwich has had to stop its services – but the space is still being put to good use after one woman cooked up a brilliant idea.

Members of the TLC Dinner Choices team at work preparing the meals. Picture: Independence MattersMembers of the TLC Dinner Choices team at work preparing the meals. Picture: Independence Matters

Elaine Payne, owner of caterers TLC Dinner Choices, is working with social enterprise Independence Matters – which runs the community hub on Vauxhall Street, off Chapelfield Road – to offer a meals on wheels-type service to vulnerable and isolated people in the area.

Mrs Payne and her team usually provide catering for the hub’s customers, who are generally older people and those with learning and physical disabilities.

With the hub closed, she and her team have taken to home cooking to make sure people who need it can still get hot meals during the coronavirus crisis.

Mrs Payne said: “When the hub closed many of the customers were in tears and worried about their future. We initially solved this problem by offering our hot and chilled meal service being delivered to their homes.

Members of the TLC Dinner Choices team at work preparing the meals. Picture: Independence MattersMembers of the TLC Dinner Choices team at work preparing the meals. Picture: Independence Matters

“Word spread and we have now identified that there are a lot more people in the community who need our service but are on low incomes.

“Thanks to Independence Matters we have access to a kitchen at Vauxhall Community Hub, Johnson Close, Norwich, and are able to prepare and cook nutritious hot meals and deliver to those in need living in the NR1 to NR7 area.”

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Independence Matters managing director Sarah Stock said: “At this time of such uncertainty for people it is the essentials like a hot nourishing meal that are so important. When our Community Hub buildings had to close so suddenly we were all really concerned about how to help people that we knew were going to be left frightened and worried about how to put food on the table and feed themselves.

“Elaine and TLC have been brilliant in stepping into that space and ensuring that people are looked after and at Independence Matters we are pleased that we have been able to play a small part through the use of our facilities and support with promotion.”

TLC has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the cost of running this service – every donation of £6.50 provides someone with a hot two-course meal delivered to their door, but all donations of any size are welcomed and gratefully accepted.

The project has the support of Norwich Town Close councillors Emma Corlett and Karen Davis who are working with other organisations to make sure the funds go to the people most in need.

Mrs Corlett said: “We know there are people in our community struggling to provide a hot meal for a variety of reasons. This pay it forward scheme enables people who have a secure income to help out those who don’t by covering the cost of a meal for someone in hardship.

“We have seen from the many acts of kindness what a supportive place Norwich is, we hope that those who can afford to will support this scheme.”

To donate, visit the JustGiving page.

For more information about the scheme, contact Elaine Payne by calling 07742 801716 or emailing empayne2374@gmail.com

For more ways you can get help during the coronavirus crisis, join our Norfolk and Waveney Here to Help group on Facebook.


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