Community Roast: bringing families together in Manchester
This month's blog comes from Claire Trivino, who I've known for 10 years and who is a Life Villager, mum of two, comedian and a More to Life mentor. I've learnt a lot from Claire and have been inspired by her passion for community and hospitality. Here she writes about her Community Roast idea and how it has brought people together in Manchester.
The idea of having lots of people round for Sunday lunch might scare some people but it has always appealed to me. Sharing meals with others is something I've enjoyed for years. We are a family of four living in Manchester and we have two children aged five and seven. We value hospitality and our home is always full of people coming and going, often eating with us.
I have to admit though, the reality of preparing the food, serving it and washing up greasy dishes afterwards has often brought me back down to earth. And people make mess. On one occasion we had a group round for Sunday lunch which included nine children in total. Afterwards I found a mountain of clothes on the children’s bedroom floor. It turns out that the nine children had together emptied the entire contents of both bedroom drawers and the washing basket onto the floor. Not fun to tidy up on your own.
So I came up with an idea of having a monthly Community Roast in our local church hall. Instead of one family planning, hosting and then clearing up after the event, why not share the load between everyone? We would invite a few local families to come and help prepare a roast dinner, big enough for everyone , and then we would eat it together and share the tidying up.
So I chose a date and started inviting people to the first event. I invited friends from the children’s school, neighbours as well as people I had known for years who lived in the area. People were keen. Between us we decided who would bring which bits of the roast dinner: enough potatoes for 20, veg for the same number, a joint of meat, a pudding, a high chair and something for the children to play with.
Despite the complicated logistics of working out how many Yorkshire puddings to bring as numbers grew, it was a satisfying outcome when we ended up with enough food and a complete roast dinner plus pudding for everyone. We shared the serving and washing up and the children had loads of space to play. What was even better was that they rarely needed toys but simply entertained each other whilst the adults chatted. Perfect! A few single mums from the area found the times especially helpful as Sunday is so often a 'family day' so eating with others doesn’t always feel like an option.
People seemed to like the 'everyone muck in' aspect to the afternoon. It's good to be given the chance to contribute. They also liked to sample someone else's roast potatoes or apple crumble. And of course, anyone who's made a roast dinner knows, it’s much easier to boil one massive pot of carrots than prepare a few different smaller dishes, one of which will probably be overdone or cold by the time it’s all served up.
Our monthly Community Roasts have now transitioned into ‘The Big Breakfast’ - a Saturday morning cafe where a few volunteers cook veggie breakfasts, ingredients are donated by local businesses and all profit goes to the local destitution project. It is a great venture. The café is going well because, just like the Community Roast, there is space for the children to play, friends prepare and eat food together and everyone volunteers their time and energy.
Food and community is a winning combination.
Do you struggle with hospitality because it feels too much to host everyone and cook a meal in your own home? Why not get some friends together and try your own community roast in a hall or community centre? All bring something to contribute and help with the washing and tidying up. Get in touch and let us know how it goes!
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