Portland soup kitchen gets a makeover

A team of volunteers from housing association Aster Group has completed expansion works to the soup kitchen at Saint John the Baptist Church in Portland, Dorset.

Several new counter units and an extra cooker have been installed, boosting the church’s ability to provide hot meals to those in need.

Seven members of Aster’s trades team, including carpenters, decorators and plumbers, volunteered their time and spent a week fitting out the new equipment.

Plans first began when Reverend Tim Gomm, the Rector of Portland Parish, reached out to the social housing provider, asking if they could spare any old worktops or units that had been removed from homes owned by the Group.

But Aster went one step further, working with local supplier Premiere Kitchens and Plumbing Centre to install a range of brand-new equipment at the church for free.

Reverend Tim Gomm, Rector of Portland Parish, said: “Every week we hold a free soup lunch for anyone who needs it. Since the installation of the kitchen in the church, numbers have soared. Soup is now being prepared freshly each Thursday morning with food donated by Tesco's store on Portland. We are so pleased with the kitchen, and as time goes on it will used more and more by the community and for the community. Thank you Aster.”

Vicki Sanderson, property services director at Aster, said: “When we first received the email from Reverend Tim, we knew it was a great opportunity to give back to the community and make a vital local initiative even better.

“It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for the team, knowing that they have made a tangible difference to the lives of those in need in part of our local communities, ensuring that hot meals can be provided to more people than before.

“Times are tough and programmes like this soup kitchen, that provide nutritious meals to people who would otherwise go without, are more important than ever. The team really enjoyed being involved with the project and feel that they have, in a small way, assisted the local community in these very difficult times.”

Sean Williams, national business development manager at Premier Kitchens, added: “When Aster said they wanted to provide a kitchen for the church in Portland (and the story behind it) we did not hesitate in offering our support to Aster and the church by providing a new kitchen free of charge for a very worthy cause.”

The project was organised through Aster Group’s registered charity, the Aster Foundation. The Foundation has pledged to improve the lives of 40,000 people by 2030, with community work like the soup kitchen installation forming a key part of their programme of engaging and connecting with communities.

To find out more about Aster’s volunteer programme visit https://astervip.goodsted.com/   

Organisations looking for volunteer support can contact the Aster Foundation at asterfoundation@aster.co.uk.

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