10,000 meals for migrants in 2021
In March, a tiny cluster of friends started Reading Mutual Care for the Coronavirus, blooming into a massive operation of hundreds of volunteers across Reading, delivering food and medicine to vulnerable people. In May, a few of these who were also part of Reading Red Corner, a socialist boxing gym in the town, branched out and created Reading Red Kitchen, a solidarity project that’s served almost 10,000 meals this year to refugees in Reading.
During lockdown, asylum seeking migrants have been trapped in limbo across the UK. Priti Patel’s heinous, and racist, policy continues the long legacy of pro-war but anti-refugee sentiment Britain has adopted for decades. Instead of being inspired by key moments in our history, like supporting and accepting Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, some are happy to let families suffer on their perilous journey, only to be detained in inhumane conditions here. But many, are not. And because of those that believe that all people deserve dignity, respect and refuge, we’ve managed to feed and support so many.
Food is a huge part of what we do. With cooks, restaurants like Yaadgaar and associations like Berkshire Muslims, Veg4Reading and more supplying fantastic ingredients and meals, we keep a daily food service. We also keep a hub phone, where all the migrants in temporary accommodation in Reading can WhatsApp requests for clothes and other items, so we can log, source and ensure distribution. All of this allows us to fulfil basic needs, but also to connect with our friends every single day, with a chat, a hello, a kind word. The treatment by the system and private security firm charged with their “care” is awful, and oftentimes we’re the only friend they’ll see in a day. We’ve been appropriate adults, emergency contacts, confidants and more.
Your continued support helps us do that, and more. This Christmas we gave out two gift bags to every person, with gender specific toiletries and accessories, and incredible gifts for the children. With no right to work and an asylum allowance of £8 a week you need to know the system to haggle for, this would be completely impossible without your contributions, gifts, volunteering time, food and help. This year we held two Eid celebrations, one Diwali night, and for January 2021 we’ll plan an Eritrean Christmas evening.
Because we are a solidarity collective, we don’t believe that we are special people for doing this, or we as individuals need a spotlight. It’s about the movement, the migrants who need support and solidarity. We do not expect gratitude, we always say “you’d do the same for us” to our migrant friends. As a collective, none of our roles are paid, we get no formal funding, so every penny you give goes on shoes, pants, toiletries, phone credit. With the OpenCollective platform, you can easily see where each expense and charge goes for yourself, too. We rely on your continued compassion in 2021, because we’ll be doing this for as long as we need to.