Helping to provide community meals in Leith

Photo of an omelette.

Earlier this year our Placemaking Team made a successful application to the National Lottery’s Community Fund for a Cost of Living Community Anchor grant. We agreed with the funders to allocate some of the grant to Pilmeny Development Project (PDP) so that they could extend the duration of a Leith-based community meal by a further 12 weeks.

How has the funding helped so far?

An existing cooking group which had been part of another PDP partnership, and was due to end in March 2023, was extended for 12 weeks with the help of the funding provided. The group was designed to help socially isolated older people on low incomes and/or with a multicultural background.

“We have become like a family – preparing the food together and sitting round the table eating and chatting with each other. And there’s no fights about who’s doing the wash up – everyone just mucks in.”

The Tuesday lunchtime meals, with support from Edinburgh Community Food, took place at the Pilmeny Resource Centre on Buchanan Street. PDP provided transport where required and volunteers from Leith Timebank, PFP, Feniks and ELREC helped to prepare meals.

Photo of vegetables on a chopping board.

More than 40 socially isolated older people on low incomes benefitted from the 12 weekly community meals and cook-along sessions. These ran alongside multicultural cook-along sessions which saw 170 individuals attend. Attendees also benefitted from takeaway boxes of healthy prepared meals.

“The atmosphere was lovely, I met plenty of very interesting people with good values. It was fantastic, amazing! I learned a lot about different ways of cooking, storing [food] and how to save energy. If there are more community meals like this happening again, count me in!”

Each week a different type of cuisine was cooked and shared together, with a friendly icebreaker at the beginning of each session. While the food was cooking, an activity took place for participants to enjoy and get to know each other and different cultures. Those taking part were from Scotland, England, Poland, Canada, Jordan, America and Ireland. Some popular activities included guest speakers such as an Energy Advisor from ELREC, and bingo to help participants improve their English skills.

A report prepared by PDP shared some of the motivations older people had to take part in the community meals:

  • To overcome loneliness
  • To learn new cooking skills and healthy options
  • They felt encouraged to attend as transport was provided
  • To improve English skills in a safe space
  • To help manage the Cost of Living Crisis by receiving energy advice and free meals/food to take home afterwards

It was agreed by all involved that the multicultural community meals and cook-along project has been a great experience for those taking part. We are thrilled that the funding we were able to provide helped to extend this project by 12 weeks. We hope that with the remaining funding we can work with PDP to deliver more community meals in Leith soon.