It was in February, when we first decided to come over for the Eagles game, when the idea of #RememberingMalcolm really started to take shape.
This trip to London was special and different for Chris and I, so we wanted to find something particularly meaningful in the memory of our sweet boy. While sifting through the internet we came across Brixton Soup Kitchen. There was a lot of positive vibes surrounding this grassroots organization by both the community and the press. We had not come across Brixton in any of our ‘what to do while in London’ searches, and connecting to a different, less-touristy area of the city was appealing to us.
The day we were volunteering the tube proved too efficient, again, and we were 15 minutes early (I’m punctual! :)). We soon found out that mornings at BSK take off at a more relaxed pace.
When Micah showed up our BSK history and tour went into full swing. He spoke to us about how Solomon was drawn to do something for their community and aid those that need it the most. To focus on what is truly important in life. Something to which Chris and I can relate. Just from that sentiment, we already felt a connection to BSK. Of course we shared our story and why we had looked to volunteer. We showed Malcolm’s picture around, introduced everyone to Hero Bear and wore Malcolm’s shirt.
Originally, BSK had difficulty finding space as all their services, including hot meals, pantry food, clothing, and legal advice, free of charge. The community has drawn together to make it a warmer (literally!) space. A friend installed the heating system, to make BSK a cozy place to come in the winter (London requires historical buildings replace old materials with similar materials, to maintain the historical feel of the city. A result of this is the windows at BSK are single pane, and a functioning heat system was necessary).
BSK doesn’t receive government funding, but relies on volunteers and donations. Their efforts have been recognized and aided by many different sponsors as well. Capital One helped them clear the garden and make it a gathering place for warmer months (Micah dropped it in that he was BBQ champ this past year:)). They get food donations from several local cafes, restaurants and grocers. BSK was even featured on the UK show Surprise, Surprise, a home reno show, that gave them state-of-the-art kitchen appliances! Their website highlights and appreciates all the sponsors for helping them be able to offer such a pure community support.
Also ANYONE can help their cause by donating to their GoGetFunding page, and look to purchase Solomon’s recently published book “The Solomon Success Story: Born Into a Dyslexic World”, about being born severely dyslexic in the tough streets of Brixton and overcoming.
As we were learning about BSK’s history other regular volunteers were arriving. Charlie, BSK’s admin and our contact, was there with her daughter (Jada) and nephew (Corey) who had the week off from school. Martin is a regular volunteer from the Netherlands who is studying the semester in the London. There were also two Jennifers who are a part of their regular rotation of volunteers. It was interesting hearing everyone’s stories and what led them to volunteer at BSK.
Then we were put to work. We prepped, cooked, served and got to know one another a bit more.
After learning we were originally from Philly and there for the Eagles game, Micah and I crushed a rendition of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’. I wish I had video but I was sauteing onions. I still did the step out of the cab with the spatula in my hand.
We served food to about 10 people, which is a very light day at BSK. More people did trickle in eventually. With one big dining room table and a cozy setting, the environment is inviting and conversation flowed.
Micah and Corey took Chris on a tour of the neighborhood and to drop off some food at the library. Similar to the US, some kids don’t get meals on a regular basis, and rely on their meal at school as a source of nutrition. When they have a week off, they can go to the library for their lunch and BSK delivers food donated by Nandos Peri Peri. Have we mentioned BSK is amazing??
A HUGE thank you to Brixton Soup Kitchen for having us participate in their daily routine and educate us about their community, their inspirations and their amazing efforts to provide some relief to those that need it. Also, thanks for letting me take a bunch of pictures to remember our experience as we keep doing what we can in memory our Malcolm.