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Paul and Laura, South Norwood Community Kitchen

  • Year Invented: 2018

South Norwood Community Kitchen started five years ago, after Paul and Laura had worked on a similar project elsewhere. Paul’s background is in housing and Laura’s is in the community sector, and the pair saw a need for a community food hub as although the area is changing and developing there are still lot of people in need of support. They refer to themselves as a ‘one stop shop’, as anyone who comes to the kitchen will be helped. They are not needs based and anyone can benefit from the organisation. 

When the project first stated anyone who came to the kitchen would share a meal together, but now their network is so vast they can no longer cater to such a large group. COVID changed a lot for them. Their user base went from around 50 to up to 200. Throughout the pandemic they organised food deliveries to make sure no one would go hungry. They are supported by the Felix Project (previously FareShare) and also get private donations as well as from organisations such as a Butchers in Bromley. Now anyone can pay them a visit on Saturday mornings to get food packages and even support in things such as writing housing applications if it’s needed. 

The pair hope to branch out to run more community projects, such as a mental health garden and running activity clubs. They are heavily involved in the re-opening Socca Cheta on Portland Road and the Community Kitchen will be found there in the future. 

This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.

From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.

South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.

The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.

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