A couple from Leeds have fed over 1500 people through their charity, Grace and Care and have recently set up shop in the kitchen of a local primary school.
Grace and Care, created by husband-and-wife duo, Debbani and Sam Ghosh, was set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, when people were struggling to put meals on the table due to lost jobs, insufficient furlough pay, benefit problems, ill-health and a lack of formal and informal support.
The couple began cooking vegetarian meals from their home for a local hostel before being offered the kitchen in Primley Wood Primary School twice a month to deliver their outreach work.
The charity provides around 80 takeaway meal and food parcels containing fresh fruit, vegetables, and dry food twice a month to people from different communities, religions, and ethnic backgrounds and since its inception, have donated over 1500 meals to people in need.
Mrs Ghosh began working in the charity sector as a volunteer at the Asian Blind Association in the late 1990s and became a project coordinator for the charity in the early 2000s, after taking a few years out to have her children. Since 2008, she has worked as the manager of the organisation, delivering flexible and accessible culture-specific support to blind and visually impaired people from the South Asian, Black, and Ethnic Minority communities.
Mr Ghosh has spent 27 years serving the West Yorkshire community as a police officer. The couple decided to put their combined fifty years’ worth of experience in the community to create a charity serving people who are homeless and families in need of food.
Mrs Ghosh said “We wanted to ensure that we worked with everyone and anyone who needs food, so we have people from different communities and cultural backgrounds volunteering with us. Our food is 100% vegetarian so that everyone is included.”
The Trussell Trust – the UK’s largest network of food banks – saw an increase of 14% in people using their services last year compared to in 2019/20 and is expected to increase further this year with the cost-of-living crisis. However, these statistics do not include the work like Grace and Care and countless others, meaning that the true scale of the problem is unknown.
Mr Ghosh said: “We had been toying with the idea of opening a charity for a while and during lockdown, we decided to take the plunge and create Grace and Care.
“In short, we provide takeaway meals free of charge, but it also crosses into a food bank as we provide a food parcel each week for a family to take away, which includes different things each week, from vegetables, and tinned produce, and dry food.
“Grace and Care is a charity that takes the best from different organisations, keeping what works and stripping things out that we question. Everybody starts with the best intention and then politics, religion, ethnicity, and social-economic factors come into it. We wanted to create a charity that feeds people who are hungry.
“We gave the organisation a very holistic and generic name on purpose so that it is not affiliated to any part of the world, any faith group, or any community. Everybody needs grace and everyone needs care.”
Jordan License, head of school at Primley Wood Care, said: “Grace and Care are a group of truly inspirational volunteers. Families come to collect beautifully cooked dishes without questioning, judgement or prejudice, allowing such a warming and open invitation to all.
“The commitment they put in to support the school and wider community is admirable and their work doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank you, Grace and Care for all you do and the lives of individuals and families, which you make better.”
For more information, please visit Grace and Care’s Facebook page, here.