Wirral Charity show off their Van

Cheshire Freemasons’ Charity (CFC) were pleased to donate £550 to enable two remarkable young women to purchase a “new to them” Van and on Monday 15th August, the Press and Media were invited to hear about the outstanding contribution they are making to the Community in Rock Ferry, Wirral.

Ema Wilkes, voted O2 Merseyside Woman of the Year 2016 for services to the Community and Jen Doherty, are using the van to collect good quality surplus food from local shops and Supermarkets around Birkenhead. They then prepare the food in the kitchen of Beaconsfield Community House in Rockferry, Birkenhead, where they serve up the children’s dinners from what they have named the Neo Community Cafe.  They will prepare more than 2,000 free meals for Children who may be missing out on school dinners during the summer holidays in this extremely deprived part of the Wirral.

Multi coloured railings painted by Community Service offenders
Multi coloured railings painted by Community Service offenders

The ex Council Welfare Building has been offered to NEO Community Cafe by Birkenhead Council
The ex Council Welfare Building has been offered to NEO Community Cafe by Birkenhead Council

The girls will also be showing children, parents and carers how to prepare and cook simple meals for themselves. Ema, explaining their initiative said: “We are passionate about educating communities on how to prepare and cook meals that will enable them to stretch their budget helped by using knowledge of freezing and batch cooking.

 

The Van outside M&S Foodstore on a Food Collection Mission
The Van outside M&S Foodstore on a Food Collection Mission

Ema Wilkes with Food and flowers from M&S
Ema Wilkes with Food and flowers from M&S

Ema said “Thanks to the Freemasons and the generous donations from community members, we have now been able put a van on the road, which we can load up with larger quantities of surplus food, and cook food enough to serve over 2,000 dinners over the summer holidays.”

The food that is collected will also be used to provide a weekly Social Supermarket delivered from Beaconsfield Community House in Rock Ferry which allows community members to access to good quality branded produce and fresh food which can save a family an average of 47% on their weekly food bill. In addition to Food the Supermarkets donate flowers which are delivered by NEO volunteers by hand, to lonely ladies of the Community, they would never think of buying them for themselves, it is a real morale booster.

Cheshire Freemasons’ Charity Steward Colin Ross added: “As Freemasons we are keen to support Community initiatives like this, which show how two dedicated women can make such a difference to the lives of children in a deprived area, who might otherwise go hungry during the holidays when they cannot access regular school dinners.”

 

Adrian Davies, Ema Wilkes, Paul Massie, Colin Ross and Jen Doherty

L->R: Colin Ross, Ema Wilkes, Jen Doherty , Anne Parsons and a volunteer
L->R: Colin Ross, Ema Wilkes, Jen Doherty , Anne Parsons and a volunteer

 

Neo are committed to helping families through out the year and will continue to host provision after the school holidays finish, Beaconsfield  Community house will be open for at least three days a week from 11th September and will have a variety of activities going on,  including financial and legal support, a Pay As You Feel café, adult education sessions and social supermarkets to name just a few.  Look out for a time table of provision on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Paul Massie and Adrian Davies point out the signage

Andy Gill from BBC North West Today reporter for Merseyside
Andy Gill from BBC North West Today reporter for Merseyside

 

 

The Neo Cafe van sports Cheshire Freemasons’ signage to signify the support the organisation has given to help put the vehicle on the road. BBC Radio Merseysides’ Paul Salt http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p043gkyh  reported at 16:48, The Wirral Globe published a story on their Web Site http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14683100.Wirral_community_cafe_launches_meals_on_wheels_service_for_hungry_schoolchildren/  and BBC North West Today ( which put out reports at 13:37 and  18:40 ) , were present at the event and will have raised the positive profile of both NEO Community Cafe and their supporters.

Anyone following this Van will get the message “Freemasonry supports local Charities”

Colin Ross Provincial Grand Charity Steward indicating the signage in UGLE Blue and using the Warnock Pro Regular Font