Dishes from around the world will be served when a new pop-up restaurant opens its doors in Walsall.
Aspiring cooks who shared their culinary skills at Walsall community project Mend-It at special cultural cooking sessions, are now inviting paying customers to dinner.
The project is running three temporary restaurant nights at Green Lane Baptist Church to give enterprising participants a chance to shine.
This Friday (20) the first pop-up restaurant will serve up a Nigerian feast along with entertainment. To book places visit the website https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mend-it-pop-up-restaurant-tickets-44308687477?aff=es2
The cost is £6 per person.
Kayon Blake, of Mend-It, said: “Following the success of Cultural Cooking – a regular event sponsored by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Active Citizens Fund, which uses the proceeds of crime to make communities safer and cohesive, we are excited and delighted to invite you to come and experience a cultural explosion of food and entertainment.
“Three of our fantastic home cooks featured at Cultural Cooking have decided to launch start their own catering business with the support Mend-It, GLBC and local businesses.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for us to support local people within our community to showcase their talents in food and music. Everyone is welcome.”
All meals are priced at £ 6.00. Please do reserve your place early to help us plan accordingly. Come experience deliciously authentic cuisine, culture, food, lmusic and entertainment from a different culture each month.”
Non-alcoholic drinks, homemade cakes, tea and coffee will be available on sale. There is also free parking.
The restaurant will be open from 5pm to 8.30pm on Friday, May 18 for Indian and vegan food and on June 15 Caribbean food will be served.
A tireless project worker at a Walsall church centre that provides education and skills training sessions for residents was treated to a surprise trip to 10 Downing Street, to a reception hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron for voluntary groups.
Kayon Blake, the fundraising and community manager at the town’s Mend-It community initiative, had the shock of her life when the last minute invitation from the Cabinet Office landed in her email inbox giving just 24 hours’ notice. She was invited after the project was nominated by an unknown supporter to attend the VIP gathering in London in March. Mend-It, based at Green Lane Baptist Church, operates four days a week offering English classes to foreign language speakers, sewing and handicraft workshops, tea and chat drop-in, free bread and keep fit sessions plus card making worKshops monthly. It attracts around 100 visits per week. Mrs Blake said: ” My eyes did a double take and my mouth fell open when I read the emailed invitation. I couldn’t believe it. Initially I thought it was a prank and then a million questions raced through my mind. Chief among them was, why was I chosen? In that moment I heard a voice in my head say, ‘why not you!’ “I telephoned Number 10 twice to make sure it wasn’t a wind up. Then as there was so many last minute arrangements to make that another church member and session volunteer Natalie Walker booked and downloaded my train ticket. “As I approached the gate at Downing Street a sense of nervous excitement welled up inside me. ‘Hello’ said the police officer at the gate. I replied, ‘Hi, Dave’s expecting me,’ trying to act and sound cool as I handed him my invitation. After producing that and my ID I went through the security checkpoint and the door to Number 10 opened. I was ushered up three flights of stairs into a large room that was already teeming with pastors, priests, other charity personnel and grant funders. Mr Cameron gave a speech about how Britain was a Christian country and that he was proud to be a part of it with its Christian values that respects and is tolerant of other cultures and communities. It made me think of Mend-It, as respect and tolerance are our core values and people from all cultures are welcome and encouraged to grow and form friendships.” “I didn’t get to speak to him because there was such a great clamour of folks surrounding him. But it was a great experience for someone like me. Downing Street was the last place I was expecting to get an invitation to. It was a very big shock and a big surprise for me and the church. It was an honour for Mend-It to be recognised in this way.
I got involved with Mend-It almost two years ago as a centre user at the fabric workshops because I was new to Walsall and I hadn’t made many friends. “Since then I started attending the services at the church, I got baptised by the former minister Rev Bob Morris and when the managers’ job was advertised last summer I applied for it and was eventually offered the position. “I am continually encouraged by this quote from the Bible in Philippians 1 and verse 6 ‘Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus.’ I believe that God is not finished with Mend-It, Green Lane Baptist Church and by extension, me. There is still much more work to be done to his glory and activities we would like to introduce if we can attract funding support.” In addition to the weekly sessions there are health information drop-ins, fabric workshops and fun days hosted at the premises in Burrowes Street. Mend-It was set up in 2009 by former minister Mr Morris and his wife Valerie, who spearheaded the activities with the help of volunteers from the church and the community to promote healthy lifestyles and health attitudes in response to figures which showed that the Birchills area is among of the most deprived in the country. Mrs Blake was appointed to run the vital community service in September last year(2015). The service is funded by the church and with the help of grant funding which has included Walsall Area Partnership, Near Neighbours, Healthwatch, Walsall Housing Group, Heart of England Baptist Association. ESOL classes are provided by Walsall Adult and Community College. The doors are open during term time from 9.45am to 3:00pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; keep fit operates Wednesdays and Fridays at 10am.