I learned about Emmaus Greenwich because of my love of second-hand shopping in the UK and France. I love antiquing, vintage bargains and recycled clothes. Having visited the charity shop in Plumstead when I was scouring around for bargains, I saw a post on Facebook and recognised the Emmaus logo. The Facebook post requested volunteers and anyone who could spare some time cooking. It said, ‘would you like to volunteer a few hours a week?’ and I enjoy cooking and thought, I could do that. It was in January 2023 that I called up and arranged a chat. I met the coordinator in February and started volunteering in March.

Initially, Emmaus needed someone to cook lunch for companions on Fridays. This was excellent because I got to go through the ropes and learn how to use the equipment as it’s an industrial kitchen. I got to shadow some wonderful cooks, usually one of the companions. We would whip up around 70 meals for companions and staff each time.

Eventually there was a need for someone to cook on Thursday afternoons for Emmaus’ Street Souls solidarity point at Woolwich Community Centre. I jumped at the opportunity to help prepare and cook 30 to 40 meals each week for the Street Souls solidarity point. The team transport the food to the community centre and set it all up. This opportunity to cook for Street Souls was an amazing experience. There are people who can’t cook or don’t have the facilities to cook at home or wherever they are staying. It’s a chance for them to get a warm nutritious meal, enjoy games, music and have a chat.

Creating meals for people in need

Some of the ingredients are ordered by Emmaus and some come from local donations and the Felix Project. We make anything from mushroom tarts and chilli to use up the ingredients and make sure nothing goes to waste. Often we experiment with dishes because the donations can be so varied, creating new dishes like deep fried patties- which are mash potatoes and vegetable rolls in flour, dipped in egg and deep fried. They’re delicious!

Kait volunteering in the kitchens preparing meals at Emmaus Greenwich

There’s joy and banter when we’re cooking, and there’s companionship. Of course, people do fall out once in a while, but there’s always food that brings people together. I’ve sat at a table with people who aren’t in a good way and lost everything in life including hope. I have met people at the shelter who have been soldiers, directors, actors, financial wizards and the likes. The central fact that people come together for a meal is the most satisfying part for me.

Having lived in three different continents, I realise that food is central to meeting new people from different parts of society and different backgrounds. The goal is to prepare a nice meal that makes everyone happy.

‘Satisfying, fulfilling and enriching’

My reason for volunteering is a very selfish cause. I wanted personal satisfaction. The joy of giving and doing something for someone. The joy of coming together and cooking as a community. It brings different cultures together and it’s about going out and being there for someone else. It’s very satisfying, fulfilling and enriching for me.

When you volunteer for Emmaus, you’ve got to keep an open mind and be ready to learn. I always leave the kitchens wanting to be back the next Thursday to cook again.

Emmaus is very appreciative of what you do. Every week they gratefully accept your kitchen experiments. There is so much there that humbles you. There are always ups and downs, but I personally think it’s a brilliant experience. The goal is for betterment in life and everyone rallies around you.


If you would like to volunteer for Emmaus Greenwich, you can browse our current volunteer opportunities and apply online here.