We are all so happy to see our minibus pull up outside the Centre giving us the opportunity to welcome our service users back into the lunch club again.  This has been the situation every day since Monday July 6th.  It is so wonderful to see people coming back in after an absence of almost four months. 

Everyone accepted the new systems in the Centre and in the lunch club.  No-one seemed to be affected by the perspex screens, the one-way system, the hand sanitisers, the thermometer, gloves and masks.  Our new cleaner constantly moves around, cleaning surfaces, communal handles as well as loos.   People seem to be very reassured by the measures even though it is so different to what we were used to.

The lunch-club itself now consists of well-spaced tables and chairs and it is heartening to see service users abiding by the guidance on social distancing.   Our chefs have, as always, surpassed themselves with the menus and have adjusted completely to the new way of working in the kitchen and dining room.   They have served up some really nutritious and tasty food – as always! 

Our café now has a very different layout to what it was like at the beginning of the year.  Most of the tables which were situated in the central floor area, have been removed.   Some of the stools around the side of the café are still there and they are being used by people.   Customers are getting used to entering the café, using the hand sanitiser and following the signage about the one-way system.   It’s different but it’s working well so far.  The reward in the nice weather is the wonderful roof terrace where customers can go and eat their meals and have their drinks.   It is idyllic in the good weather. 

Our Online Centre has also gone through a change in spacing out the computers.  We now have five computers instead of ten.   Again, people have adjusted very quickly to the new environment and have been enjoying the opportunity of being back in a familiar setting.    

Our food distribution still continues.   Our donors have been brilliant.  Thank you to local people, neighbours, the Felix Project, City Harvest, Islington Local Authority and Fareshare.   The food which has been gifted to us is making a real difference to the lives of so many families in our area.  

It is also heartening to see a number of staff back in the Centre, having been furloughed.   The number is small at the moment but gradually, we will continue to recall staff back to the Centre as we open up more and more activities and services.   Everyone’s safety and wellbeing is our priority and we will continue to do everything possible to ensure we put that first as we continue to re-introduce our services to the public. 

And finally, a big ‘thank you’ to everyone for the support, assistance, donations, and volunteering hours that so many have given to us in the past four months.  One of the biggest ‘silver linings’ of this ‘cloud’ has been the response of our community, the care of our neighbours and the generosity of our benefactors at a very difficult time. Thank you!

If anyone feels they can donate to our Food Hub appeal, to keep this much-needed service going as lockdown eases, please visit our JustGiving page

Michael Ryan, St Luke's CEO