On Friday I was delighted to be invited to speak at the YMCA Derbyshire where they were celebrating the one-year anniversary of their community meal.
The meals are held at the London Road Campus on the last Friday of every month and are delivered in partnership with Head High, a new mental health community organisation.
The aim of the meal is to allow people in the community to come together, get to know each other and feel a sense of belonging. Each month local businesses and organisations are invited to send over a group of volunteers to help run the event.
This month a team from Santander were on hand to help serve the meals, ably assisted by Derbyshire cricketers, Matt Critchley and Alex Hughes, along with myself.
In a packed room, filled with enthusiastic conversation, the guests enjoyed a meal of chicken or chickpea curry, followed by bread and butter pudding.
It was clear that a healthy appetite had been built up by those who had been on the pre-meal walk led by staff from the Derby County Community Trust!
At the end of the meal, Gillian Sewell, Chief Executive of the YMCA Derbyshire announced that the 1000th community meal had been served and a cake, kindly dominated by Tesco celebrating the one-year anniversary was cut.
I was then asked to give a presentation on my trip to Kenya with the Derby County Community Trust earlier this year. This concluded with me showing an image of some of the children at the school where I volunteered, acting out the ‘YMCA’ as a thank you for the kind donation given towards the cost of my trip.
In ending my talk, I described my own battle with mental ill health and how anyone can be affected at any time in their lives. It was the first time I’ve spoken publicly about my illness, but I felt comfortable in doing so in such a supportive environment.
Congratulations to the YMCA Derbyshire, working with Head High on establishing the community meal and long may it continue.