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Langley College kitchens used by Slough Outreach to distribute thousands of meals

Since the COVID- 19 outbreak began Langley College has been just as busy as usual with volunteers taking over the site to cook up hot meals for vulnerable people in Slough. Deputy editor Grace Witherden spoke to Slough Outreach to find out how the group has been supporting those in need.

DRAFT

Just over two months ago the corridors of Langley College were packed with students and teachers, but now the site in Station Road is being used for a very different purpose.

Since the college was forced to close following Government orders back in March, it is now being used as a base to support the community effort against COVID-19.

The kitchens have been utilised to make hot meals which are distributed by Slough Outreach volunteers to vulnerable people in the community, including the elderly and homeless.

Volunteers made up of furloughed chefs spend the morning creating hot dishes using food which has been donated to the cause.

By mid morning at least 300 hot meals are packed up and distributed for free by volunteer drivers.

The group has distributed more than 25,000 meals since the outbreak began.

Shin Dother, founder of Slough Outreach said he got in touch with Langley College early on as he knew they would need professional kitchens to produce a large amount of meals.

He said: “If we didn’t have access to the college, we would still be able to provide meals to some, but we would not be able to reach the elderly and vulnerable, or those referred by social care.

“Our support is non-judgmental and unconditional. If a person is hungry, we will provide.

“We send our drivers out as you need the trust to not only serve them a meal but to show them a face and show them we are still there to support them.

“On Wednesdays we go out to A&E and provide frontline NHS staff with hot meals, so we do a total of 500 meals.”

The group has recently been interviewed by Ross Kemp and are set to appear in his documentary series on BBC One next week.

Alongside providing access to its kitchen facilities, Langley College has also been designated the One Slough Community Response Hub. The College is being used to sort, store and dispatch food throughout the community, and was also used as a base for a virtual call centre.

The overall initiative is delivered as a partnership between Slough Borough Council, Slough CVS and voluntary sector groups throughout Slough.

Leading the effort on behalf of Langley College, which is part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, is Gurpreet Nizzar.

He said the college has felt ‘very privileged’ that its facilities have been put to such ‘valuable use’ during the pandemic.

“Instead of standing empty this space and the expertise we have here at the college, it has been at the heart of the local response to bringing healthy, home cooked food to the vulnerable in Slough,” he added.

The college has also been providing entertainment to 45 homeless people who have been housed in a nearby hotel during the outbreak.

Volunteers have created books and puzzles to those with no access to computers or TVs.

Gurpreet said the college is keen to support the homeless once students are back by offering haircuts and beauty treatments.

He added: “It’s about taking our skills and learning into the community by offering help on what’s needed for survival.”

Shin added: “There is so much going on and this is a whole community response, this is what has brought us all together, there is so much positive which has come out of this.”

Follow @SloughOutreach on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the cause.

Food donations can be dropped off at the college 9am-1pm, Monday-Friday

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