Red Radish feeding thousands for St Mungo’s ‘hotels for the homeless’

We’ve spent the past couple of months helping feed the homeless during the coronavirus crisis.

Springtime usually spells planning and preparing for our busiest time of year, not to mention location catering for various TV and film jobs. Festival season looms and Red Radish hit 3-4 solid months of touring the country feeding crew, artists and punters at multiple events per week.

Needless to say, this spring and summer have ended up decidedly different. The outbreak of COVID-19 was bound to hit our industry hard and, as expected, festivals dropped like flies from our calendar.

Helping feed the homeless during the coronavirus outbreak

Back in March, we were contacted about a project in the pipeline that would see thousands of London’s homeless housed in hotels across the city, left empty by the lockdown.

It might now seem obvious that this virus could have a catastrophic impact on those most vulnerable in society, but back when this still felt like an abstract concept, the scale and speed of the effort to protect the homeless in particular was extraordinary.

In this case it was St Mungo’s, one of the UK’s leading homelessness charities, and the Mayor of London that took the initiative. In the space of a few weeks, over 5,000 homeless people across England and Wales were housed in hotels in an incredible emergency operation to get all rough sleepers off the streets amidst this outbreak. Many of them are in hotels are in London and being managed and operated by St Mungo’s and the Mayor of London.

Part of this enormous undertaking required three meals a day to be delivered to each resident in the hotels for the indefinite lockdown period. That translates to a gargantuan catering job, but after a bit of deliberation we knew we could crack it.


The new look Red Radish operation

In a very short space of time we practically rebuilt a premises to house an area we could cook, pack and ship these meals, all under strict social distancing and hygiene measures. We can always count on our Radishes to pull together and do the donkey work, but they’ve gone over and above to make this operation tick.

Our chefs have continued to cook delicious food, our packing team have bagged every single meal up, and our drivers have made sure these are all delivered safely and promptly to each hotel. Not to mention the crucial work behind the scenes to make this all logistically possible!

During this project, we’ve run the numbers and have it at around 175,000 meals that we’ve prepared, packed and delivered to the hotels in the St Mungo’s/MoL remit and a couple of other local authorities so far.

This situation has hit us extremely hard as a business, and many others, so we’ve been massively grateful and proud to have been put to work on this job. It’s also enabled to us to extend our help to more vulnerable people in our area. Read more about our work with local community schemes here.

Check out the video of what we’ve been up to helping feed the homeless these past couple of months.

There haven’t been many positives to take from this awful situation, but whether it’s rallying around our NHS or recognising just how capable we all are of being kind to each other, there are some glimmers of hope.

If the incredible efforts of those involved in this project to house the homeless end up having a lasting impact, that would be one hell of a silver lining.

Let’s hope the government can take lessons from this emergency response and apply them to a more permanent solution to homelessness in this country beyond this.

The project has been recognised in the national press a couple of times, you can read reports in the Guardian here and another in the Mail here.

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