Getting together and giving poverty a voice

In February the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) supported a number of charities and community groups in attending the Social Media Exchange 2016 conference.  This event aimed to equip delegates with the skills to use digital mediums to tell their stories and improve the organisations profile.  Delegates JRF supported used the skills they learnt to tell their stories.

Here is a story from MakeLunch, a charity set-up to provide free school holiday meals to children who rely on Free School Meals during term-time.  It does this via a network of churches, for more information visit MakeLunch. 

“Meet Mo, one of our volunteers from a kitchen in Essex. She is cook extraordinaire and has been a lifesaver for our LunchMaker Elle. We’ve been chatting to Mo this week and finding out more about why she volunteers for MakeLunch.

Mo first heard about MakeLunch at church. Elle had shared some info about the charity and that she needed volunteers to start a kitchen in their area.  “I was captivated with the fact that such poverty existed in the UK” Mo shared “and at the time I was not working due to reasons beyond my control so decided I should give my time and energy to a good cause.”

So in August 2012 Mo started helping out at the lunch club every day that it was open, taking along her daughter, who got to enjoy the activities, while Mo cooked and prepped the food with the rest of the team. For Mo the best thing about MakeLunch is being able to give back to the community she lives in and to see children who are happy and fed. She loves to see the children trying new foods and getting to try out and cook new recipes.

For Mo the story is bigger than this though, far bigger than the MakeLunch team could have known.  Mo mentioned early on in our chat that when she first volunteered for MakeLunch she was not working. This was because Mo was waiting for her papers to be processed to allow her to work.  This also meant that she wasn’t in a position to claim any financial help. For Mo, MakeLunch not only gave her a space to give into her community, it also fed her and her daughter when they most needed it.

Mo was able to start working in 2014 and quickly gained a job working in a kitchen for a local school. She has since moved on and now works as an administrator for the NHS. Mo says that volunteering at the Lunch Kitchen gave her the confidence to apply for jobs and gave her extra skills and experience that she could add to her CV.

MakeLunch is so blessed to have Mo as part of our story, it is incredible that her aim was always to go and help, not to be helped. We are so thankful that our kitchen has been able to help her and her daughter in a small way.”

*ATD Fourth World UK recognises the importance of other community groups supporting people through hardship. If you would like your work to be published here, please tell us your story by writing to