As part of Refugee Week, at the Dulwich Picture Gallery this week and online, have a look at our exhibition of photos Here Now, featuring friends of the Day Centre in locations that mean something to them. To find out more, Click here.
Thanks to support from friends, partners and businesses in the local area we’re providing a bag of essential groceries and toiletries to 70-80 families every week, with half a dozen more bags being delivered to people who aren’t able to leave their homes. That means that since the start of lockdown until the beginning of February we’ve handed out around 2800 bags.
We’ve also managed to keep a remote advice service going, which currently handles around 20 enquiries a month. Thanks to all our volunteers who are making that possible.a
They had to build a stone base, and a wooden structure round it to keep it dry while it was under construction. “It needs a good hat and a good pair of boots” says Robert. Each layer has to dry before the next is laid on, the walls have to be the right thickness, the door must be the right size… it’s a complicated business.
So is stretching dough. Mine is too thick and not really even round. “It looks like a map of Africa” says G to cheer me up. I load it with some tomato puree that Robert has brought from his home-grown supply, some mozzarella and basil. In the right season there are toppings ready to pick in the vegetable garden too. Peter loads it onto his long-handled shovel and we push it into the heart of the oven.
The pizza is done in just a few minutes. Pizza isn’t the right word though: there are people from Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Iran and Eritrea in the garden on the day I visit and all of them grew up with variations on this oven in their back yards. It’s an oven for whatever kind of bread, for eating together, for relaxing, for remembering, and for enjoying what a bit of imagination and good teamwork can make possible.
I wonder aloud what the future of the oven is. “It should last, if we look after it” says Robert. “The dream would to set up some kind of delivery service to isolated clients who can’t make the journey to the centre, but the problem is getting it out to them” he admits. The logistics are prohibitive, sadly. So for now it’s a very welcome treat for just a few: hot, fresh and just a little bit smoky.
A magnificent donation to our food bank this week from students and staff at Dulwich College. With the weather getting worse, and more restrictions looming, donations are more valuable to us than ever. It’s wonderful for us to know that we have strong support out there in the community. Thank you so much!
Friend of SDCAS Phil Cox has walked 2800 km because his 10 year-old son Romeo, who lives in Sicily, wanted to see his Grandma in London. He’d been impressed by the big journeys made by some of the refugees he’d met in Sicily and wondered why he shouldn’t do the same. All in aid of their excellent refugee charity REACT. Here’s the story