This interview was posted on our instagram page on 9 April 2020 as part of our #DistantSocialising series with Janie Mac from Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK).
What are RCK currently focusing on, and how has this period impacted your work?
The thing about crisis response is RCK have to be shape shifters all the time. There are no 2 days alike. We have to be fluid for the most and a lot of the time we are working in response mode. This involves a lot of daily planning, trying things out, seeing what works, replanning, feedback, daily meetings, discussing safely, discussing logistics, teams, distribution locations, learning, evacuations and a lot of WhatsApp messaging and phone calls.
Alongside this we have a fine balancing act going on to create time to focus on fundraising, HR, welfare, ordering and donations. These are the backbone of RCK and without these we wouldn’t be functioning. These alone take an immense amount of time and energy but are invisible to most.
At the end of the day we are there to make sure that people get nourishing healthy meals made with one and to create some human connection with people in their hour of need. But travel restrictions are causing issues and the health and wellbeing of refugees and volunteers are paramount.
What is keeping you inspired during this period?
During the current lockdown we are focusing on raising much more needed funds and preparing the next steps for our charity to be able to continue with the project when everything returns to some kind of normal. It is giving us a chance to make the organisation more robust. Crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. We have been on the go since we hit the ground running in 2015 this time hopefully we can reflect on what works, what doesn’t and do some tweaking.
Do you think this experience will lead to any positive changes in the way we live our lives and behave towards others?
This crisi has highlighted the increased vulnerability of our service users. The lack of shelter, the lack of information, the fear and lack of any services such as showers, toilets and any medical support. At the same time the amazing response we see in our local communities can only improve the way we start to treat our brothers and sisters who find themselves in difficult situations either at home or abroad. We have a small minority that are in it for themselves but we the people are bigger, stronger and compassionate. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. RCK is an example of that human compassion.
RCK are continuing to field London’s homeless outing this period of lockdown so please head over to their website to see how to donate and support their integral work. https://refugeecommunitykitchen.org/