I arrived and was welcomed to a table, with 5 others. In front of us were chopping boards, knives, vegetable peelers, and various food ingredients. Together, we were to make some tabbouleh, whilst answering a set of questions.
“What is a memory you have of the place you grew up?” The man sitting next to me shared with the group his memories of the beautiful town of 40,000 people in which he lived in, near Aleppo in Syria.
Nobody lives there any more. Everyone is gone. Some people died, some people disappeared and the rest of us fled.
I wanted to ask him about his family, but I couldn’t bring myself to. The questions continued, each of us taking it in turns to answer. “What is the best thing that has happened to you this week?” The same man sitting next to me shared with us.
I handed in my MA dissertation that I’ve been studying for full-time for the last year.
We all cheered.
The conversation, questions, and sharing of experience continued as we prepared food together. Around the table we were from the UK, from Syria, from Sudan and from Kenya. We were just one table of 3 in the room, full of others preparing different dishes to bring around a shared table for lunch.
Over lunch Daniel sang and played guitar, we ate the food we’d all prepared together and then Beadie from Doc Society shared with us some of the things that Local Welcome are currently looking for to continue this brilliant work.
They need an accountant, someone who can look over a business plan, some short-term cash, and venues and hosts for some more fundraising lunches. It was great to hear that the Big Lottery has given them some funding which will help them start to build some of the digital tools to support how it scales.
Local Welcome is a new charity building community and solidarity in the 21st century. I love what they do because I think they’re essentially strengthening a more diverse relational infrastructure that we so desperately need here in the UK. Over the last year they have hosted 100 lunches and dinners, bringing together local people and refugees. I hope they can continue. Thank you Ben, Jess, Beadie and co. for inviting me!