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The Healing Power of Food

Update: Due to lockdown, they will not be running the pop-out from Cafe Conscious and the takeaway option has changed. They are now working with Baraka Community Cafe  to prepare a range of low-priced meals made with surplus food. From Thursday 12th November you will be able to order ten delicious, homemade, frozen meals, for collection or delivery for only £45. £15 of that £45 will go towards ensuring that another ten meals are delivered to vulnerable women and children who are in need of food and support at this precarious time

“Food is really healing. Feasting brings people together.” Those are the words of Houria founder Kim, and that’s exactly what Houria does; bringing people together over the healing power of food. A pan-African catering company and social enterprise, Houria trains and hires women from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and women who have survived modern-slavery. It is a catering company with a difference, recognising the vast, often untapped talents and culinary contributions of migrant women, and building a sisterhood in the process.

Founded in early 2020, they started the year with scores of supper clubs and feasts booked in. When Covid-19 hit, they had to re-evaluate their plans; facing the difficult challenge of not only growing a start-up but doing it whilst a pandemic was raging. All the women involved have thrown their all into the project, and have managed to keep it going through some of the biggest obstacles. Since the beginning of October they have been running a pop-up out of Cafe Conscious on a Monday and Tuesday, and they also do a collection and delivery service (delivery to BS5 only) on a Friday from Baraka Community Cafe. For more information on how you can feast on delicious food such as aswad salad (mildly spiced blackened aubergine and peanut curry), sticky chicken in mango & chilli sauce and bacalão (salt cod and potato fritters with chilli toffee sauce), click here.

Talking to its founder, Kim, you can really sense the incredible passion and determination she has for this project. For a good reason. With a background in catering and a keen interest in human rights, especially in standing in solidarity with survivors of modern slavery, this project encompasses Kim’s desire to “elevate the freedom and wellbeing” of the women they work with. A prime example of this is the fundraising she organised for one of the women on their training course, who was in the asylum process and dreamt of being an accountant. To help her achieve her dream, Kim organised a crowdfunder which completely smashed the goal, enabling the woman to not only attend an level 3 accounting course but also providing her with the materials she needed to do the course.

The aims of the enterprise are multifaceted, offering safe employment to the women they work with, building a sisterhood of trainee chefs and running a volunteer programme, made up of allies. The work that Houria does also aims to change the narrative through their community feasts, believing in the healing power of food to unify people. It is such an important project, one which both empowers and benefits from a sisterhood of women, united by a love of food.

We are delighted to see projects like this springing up in our City of Sanctuary; projects that stand in solidarity, that offer opportunity and that bring people together. The impact of Covid-19 has been hard, but they have made it work. However, they have been struggling to access funding and so have decided to launch a fundraiser to ensure that their incredible work can continue. You can contribute to the fundraiser here, and also support them by ordering food through here.

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