The Birds Nest is one of Deptford’s longest established pubs; it sits underneath Deptford Bridge DLR station and beside the ‘Big Red Bus’.
Since the beginning of the pandemic The Bird’s nest has been running a weekly Soup kitchen, the Tuesday evening soup kitchen not only provides a free, accessible and nutritious meal but also tackles food waste. Joel Mathews, the manager of the pub, explains how the soup kitchen started and shares his ideas on how the collaboration between local businesses could provide even more free meals.
How did you start?
‘During Coronavirus I started delivering fruit and vegetable boxes; I was doing £10 mix boxes of fruit and salad and delivering them locally. Sometimes we would end up delivering them free to people who needed them most. We were delivering it all fresh but there was some wastage from bits that weren’t, we later realised we could use that for soup.
My staff were still on a salary, so it made sense to make use of them to make the soup. Again because of the pandemic people need it delivered to them because they are either ill or vulnerable or they don’t have money, so I have a motorbike driver who does a delivery for us. We have it available for people to come and collect as well, we either have a meat or a vegan soup every week’
Why do you think it’s important?
‘There really are a lot of people who have run out of money maybe during the pandemic. There are some people who can’t leave the house and need something delivered to them or there are people who just need some food and haven’t got any money – everyone needs food.’
What would you say to other businesses who are thinking of doing something similar?
‘Any restaurants or any food units should be trying to do it because everyone has their surplus at the end of the week or maybe on a Monday, it’s probably still good food that can’t be sold but it’s still good enough to eat so […] more businesses should be doing it. It should just be a normal thing that everyone does free soups or stews or something. I would just say have a go and do it and it will slowly grow, people will start coming each week.’
‘I have got calls from people in the week asking for food, on the days we don’t give out soups. There is still a demand on other days but I’m not really in the position to be giving out food every day of the week as I may not have a driver. Maybe as a community there could be different restaurants who give out free food over each of the seven days of the week. That’s a good idea actually; it would be a good thing to get other places to do, because then if someone came to us we could say “oh tomorrow you can go to that place and we could direct them there”.
How can the Lewisham public support you?
‘We could still cater for more people, so it could be advertised more. We’re doing it for free so it may as well be advertised. The more people we help the better!’
To find out more about The Bird’s Nest Pub, visit their website here.
To find out more about businesses and community groups across Lewisham providing food for people in need, visit Lewisham Local's listing here.
To express your interest in volunteering at a food project in Lewisham, this page.
Projects are always in need of more volunteers!
If you are a local business looking for ways to support people in your local community or reduce your food waste please email Lewisham Local at email@example.com