A major new project designed to help vulnerable people will be launched in Horncastle in the new year.
Lee Bowman, a former chef, is opening an ‘outreach kitchen’ at the town’s Community Centre, offering a hot meal on a Sunday evening.
Mr Bowman, who works in schools helping children with emotional and behavioural needs, says there is a massive void in support available to vulnerable and homeless people in the area on a Sunday evening.
He is hoping they will attend the kitchen, enjoy a hot meal and meet other people.
Mr Bowman is keen to work with other organisations in the town to offer on-going help, support and advice.
In time, he plans to teach ‘Level 1 and 2’ cooking skills to anyone who attends, eventually helping them attain a Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate.
Mr Bowman says anyone who gains a certificate will be able to cook meals at the centre and potentially earn money from catering for events like weddings and parties.
He points out a recognised qualification will also help people gain a job in catering which often comes with living accommodation.
If the pilot scheme is successful in Horncastle, Mr Bowman hopes to roll it out across the county and eventually nationally.
Mr Bowman has always supported vulnerable and homeless people by contributing to food banks and other appeals.
Earlier this year, he launched the ‘Urban Foundation Outreach Project’ which he hopes will be registered as an official charity in the near future.
With support from individuals and businesses like Vinyl’d and Gourmazin, the Outreach Project has already made an impact
Its ‘Bag of Life’ initiative offers those in need with two ‘ready’ meals and personal hygiene products.
Mr Bowman said: “I’m really excited about the Horncastle project.
“I’m talking to a number of organisations and hopefully they will support it.
”The reaction has been very positive.
“There is a real lack of help and support available on a Sunday evening and hopefully this will fill the void.
“It is a sad reflection on today’s society but for whatever the reason there are more and more vulnerable and homeless people around.
“This is something that can help. Everyone is welcome.”
Mr Bowman is particularly keen to work with the town’s food bank which is also based at the Community Centre.
He plans to use produce from the food bank to cook meals, particularly at the start of the project.
He is also happy receive donations, particularly tinned food.
Mr Bowman served up a meal for invited guests last Saturday and says the response was really positive.
He added: “We served up a sausage casserole but meals will depend on what is available.
“People don’t have to have the meal. They can just come for a cup of tea, some company and talk to people.”
Positive discussions have already taken place with some organisations including the town’s Lions.
Mr Bowman says he’s keen to work with local churches and charities, ‘anyone’ who can offer support.
He said: “If it is successful in Horncastle, I want to look at opening other kitchens, perhaps in Boston and Lincoln. I really want to make it work.”