The Bear Church and Bench Outreach
Updated: Jun 10
Good Food in Lewisham had the pleasure of speaking to Richard Bell who has been volunteering his time to help some of the most vulnerable people in Deptford.
Richard manages a soup kitchen run by The Bear Church and Bench Outreach which, before the Covid-19 lockdown, provided meals for anyone in need in Deptford on a Sunday evening. Social distancing meant the soup kitchen had to stop (for now) but the project still wanted to get food to their clients, many of whom are extremely vulnerable.
Richard explained that generous donations of food and toiletries come from members of the Bear Church which he collects every week. The donations are then made up into boxes which contain enough food to feed one person for a week. These are distributed to around 20 clients by Bench Outreach staff. The main challenge is logistical - getting the right food to the right people at the right time! “People are very kind and they want to make homemade bread, for example - but if you give a tough piece of bread to someone with poor teeth, they will struggle to eat it.” The art is “understanding the needs of the person you are trying to help and to do it with compassion”. Richard shared how he gave a box of fresh yam and plantain to another local food project – and made many folks so happy because that’s the food they love.
I was touched by Richard’s humility while talking about this work and his motto that “it’s better to give than to receive.” Huge thanks to Richard and the many other volunteers who are playing a key role to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are not going hungry during the Covid-19 lockdown.
If you’d like to support the project please contact:
Tel: 020 8694 7740