Sharing food, sharing love in Tottenham Hale

Every Thursday, 30 to 50 people come to the Winter Soup Kitchen at St Mark’s Methodist Church in Tottenham Hale (London Methodist District) to enjoy warm food and support.

26 March 2024

“One summer I was travelling outside London on a work trip. When we went to get our evening meal, I noticed people were congregating around a van where food was being distributed. They told me they were handing out food to people in need, all funded by the local authority. I had already seen that people were struggling and that food banks were opening up locally. It made me think that St Mark’s could start something similar,” remembers Christine, one of the project organisers.

When she mentioned the idea to the congregations and the ministers, Revd Stephen Poxon and Deacon Myrtle Poxon were enthusiastic to help their community in Tottenham Hale. Christine was certainly not the only one to notice that more and more people were struggling to make ends meet.

“We went to most of the supermarkets on Tottenham High Road and asked if they would be able to sponsor us, but no one came back,” regrets Christine.

Revd Thurairajah Samuel, Minister at Trinity at Bowes Methodists and Superintendent of the New River Circuit, was already providing meals for homeless people. He had created relationships with supermarkets and offered to share the food Trinity received.

“If there's anything particularly we can do, we will try to support them.”

Deacon Myrtle Poxon

Food banks were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. It did not stop the team of volunteers at St Mark’s who organised food deliveries in the community. When the restrictions eased, they realised the need was greater than before and people were increasingly struggling.

When the restrictions eased, they decided to organise a weekly Winter Soup Kitchen running from January to March, the last one of the winter was on Thursday 21 March. There is a core team of volunteers, such as Christine, who try to come every week and others who come when they are free, including a retired chef.

“We make some good soup, salad and sandwiches. We have regulars who come every week, some rough sleepers and some living in hostels, people who find it hard to keep going. They eat and have some extra food and that makes a huge difference,” explains Deacon Myrtle Poxton who chats with the guests, “If there's anything particularly we can do, we will try to support them.”

The church has connected with FareShare, a charity redistributing food, but it’s not enough. “We have a box at the back of the church so the congregation can donate food and most of the people who make the soup buy the vegetables they need,” adds Christine. Yet the church still had to use half of its Harvest Offering to buy food.

St Mark’s also works closely with ecumenical partners through Churches Together in Tottenham Hale. The nine churches share how they respond to the needs, notably by organising how they help the community. “We work together when we can. Our sister church at Holy Trinity has a food bank on Saturdays and Calvary Church of God In Christ feeds people on a different day of the week,” concludes Myrtle.