Did you take part in World Food Night last week? Hundreds of you did – and by doing so, you helped make a big difference to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Want to find out how it went or who your donations will help? Here’s a blog from Fundraising Manager Alison to tell you more…
Last Friday, hundreds of people up and down the country held World Food Night parties to raise awareness of the delicious culinary contributions of refugees and asylum seekers to Britain. And they raised some serious dough to help some of society’s poorest people while doing it!
Celebrations happened from Plymouth to Perth, with people opening up their homes and welcoming in friends, neighbours and colleagues. Lottie from London turned her lounge into a ‘pop-up restaurant’; Fran from Bristol cooked up a Ukrainian storm. At St Andrew’s Church in Southampton, more than 200 people from different communities shared dishes from all over the world, alongside a healthy dose of Sudanese tribal drumming.
Businesses leant their support, with restaurants in Birmingham, Leicester and London donating some of their profits on the night. Bistro Noir in Liverpool even made a special World Food Night dish – lamb tagine – giving £10 to Refugee Action every time it was ordered.
Professional chefs helped too. Masterchef: The Professionals winner Claire Lara, who runs the restaurant at The Riverhill Hotel, judged the best dish at a lunch hosted by Liverpool Innovation Park. Paul Merrett opened his restaurant especially for a World Food Brunch. Levi Roots chatted to newspaper The Voice about why influences from around the world make British cuisine so exciting. And on a musical tip, we had support from musicians Adjoa Owusu and Usifu Jalloh, and lots of help from our friends at Songlines Magazine.
It’s been great to hear about the fantastic dishes you cooked on the night – from Indian paneer tikka masala to Sudanese salad. Most popular at my World Food Night was this Syrian cherry kebab dish with pomegranate molasses. But more than that, World Food Night felt like a moment when a small yet mighty group of people came together to shine a light on the incredible influences of food and music that refugees and asylum seekers have given to our communities. It was so refreshing to see people coming together in a moment of unity… and all through eating!
Amidst all the fun, I was reminded of the real reason for World Food Night by something Maryann, an asylum seeker I once met said, after she was given a roof over her head by Refugee Action. ‘I cannot describe what it meant to me to have a bed, to have somewhere to cook and to be able to see a lawyer to help with my asylum claim’. So it’s not just about cooking food or having fun with friends: it’s about giving dignity back to people who deserve it.
So THANK YOU – to everyone who took part. We’re hoping to raise £20,000 from this event, to help destitute asylum seekers like Maryann, those who don’t have access to shelter or food or any financial support. To make sure we are really cooking up a recipe for change, so please send your donations in using the donation form and envelope in your pack, or by paying them in online here.