It feels like it has been quite a while since I last wrote up on the blog, and our first birthday is fast approaching (we first opened our doors on September 10 last year), so I thought it was a good opportunity for a ‘check in’…
Firstly, a huge thank you to every single person reading this, and who isn’t online but has helped forge what I thought was a crazy idea in my head into a real live project.
I can proudly share that since we opened, we have:
welcomed 958 people (some are repeats each week, but I don’t have the stats yet for total number of individuals who have had a TLC experience at some point), intercepted 778kg of food (!!!!), and received over £15k in donations and grants.
Of course these are just numbers, and what we are really all about is creating community and building bridges between people in Leeds who otherwise may never have met. There are many many anecdotal stories (see previous blog posts) and we are also in the process of undergoing a social audit.
In addition, thanks to the Near Neighbours, there will be a short five minute film about me and TLC online soon. Of course you’ll hear about it as soon as I do!
This week is Refugee Week, and there is an exhibition in the West Yorkshire Playhouse about friends who have met across the divide of seeking asylum and being resident in the UK. Anita and I are featured, so it feels as if we are reaching out in ways far beyond I ever imagined back in January 2014…
I have been talking a lot in the cafe (and to be honest, outside of it too with anyone who will listen!) about what the next year may bring. We are proud of our achievements in our first year, and are comfortable with what we are doing; running a coffee morning in a welcoming and safe space, twice a week, using intercepted food. But we also recognise that there are many things that we could do better, could do more of, and could be reaching out more with. But the bigger the dreams, the bigger the risks, particularly financially, why take the risk?
One of our regular visitors, a local elderly gentleman who always has an anecdote to share and a smile to give, entered the conversation this week. He’s a typical straight-talking Yorkshireman, and he turned to me and said simply, ‘What have you got to lose?’
His question has been ringing in my ears ever since. What have we got to lose? What have I got to lose? His question reminds me that my friendship wtih Anita, and the TLC project has given me so much perspective on the worries in my life, that the things I am now worrying about with TLC don’t seem to be so big after all. It seems ironic that I’ve had to go round in a big circle to be reminded by someone else what has inspired me to make TLC happen in the first place.
So expect some bigger, even crazier ideas emerging as we enter our second year, and please do join us, in whichever way you can, and be part of the TLC story…