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Palace Kitchen donates to support Evolve cooking classes

Leading London homelessness charity Evolve Housing + Support, Crystal Palace F.C. and their charity, Palace for Life Foundation have been working closely together to launch a 12-week cooking course for people who are homeless in Croydon.

The socially distanced course organised by a team of senior key workers at Evolve’s supported housing service is aiming to teach vital life skills to former rough sleepers and people with complex needs living in supported housing.

Led by two Evolve homeless residents with culinary experience, the course seeks to introduce the fundamentals of cooking in a series of classes that will teach residents how to create healthy and creative meals.

As Croydon’s largest homelessness charity, Evolve Housing + Support has worked with Crystal Palace F.C. and Palace for Life on a number of community projects in the past. This latest and generous donation seeks to empower people in the community who have experienced high levels of unemployment of homelessness stemming from the pandemic.

Palace for Life Foundation is the charitable arm of Crystal Palace F.C. and uses the power of Palace and football to positively change the lives of young south Londoners by creating safer communities, brighter futures, and healthier lives.

The money donated to Evolve was from the Palace Kitchen, a project born at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic with the aim of providing healthy meals to vulnerable people forced to stay at home, families facing food poverty, homeless people, and frontline NHS workers. Thanks to the generosity of Palace fans and stakeholders, the Palace Kitchen was able to provide over 15,000 meals to local individuals and support local organisations and projects such as the 12-week cooking course with Evolve.

Evolve Director of Operations, Alice Hainsworth said: “The trauma of being street homeless can have a terrible effect on a person, but often these people just need support and skills to become independent again.

“Our high needs homelessness service in Croydon supports people who have experienced everything from chronic rough sleeping to domestic abuse and substance misuse. Many of them are in the process of building themselves up again and need help to achieve their ambitions. That’s what we wish to achieve.

“Cooking skills are an incredibly important part of learning to become independent again and can contribute to a change in living that can help break the cycle of homelessness.

“Classes like this can help provide people with a sense of confidence that can help put them back on the road to self-reliance. They can also provide valuable employable skills that can make that big difference. Project donations like this go beyond our regular food donations because they possess a lasting impact on the people that engage. Thanks to the generosity of Crystal Palace, the people at our homelessness service will learn new skills that they get to keep forever.”

Palace for Life Chief Executive, Mike Summers said: “We are delighted to be supporting Evolve with their cooking project and we feel that it can make a real difference to their residents.  Not only will the sessions teach residents new skills but will also allow them to eat healthy food and do so together, which will hopefully boost their levels of comfort and self-esteem.”

Evolve Homeless resident, Ryan said: “I was made homeless just after my father died, but my problems started 10 years earlier when my mother passed away. Before all that, I had a good way of life. I had kids, a nice house in the country, which I worked hard for, a car, a job as a chef and a beautiful wife.

“During my time at Evolve I’ve come a long way and events like today make a big difference. It’s brought a lot of people with difficult lives together and just to have that togetherness means a lot. Covid-19 has kept us cooped up in our rooms for a long time. It’s good to be with other people again.

“I feel like I can actually see a light at the end of my tunnel now. I’m coming to the end of my time in this place and I should be getting my own place soon. I know I’ve got no other choice but to make it work. I’ve got all the skills to make it, so just watch this space. That’s all I can say.”

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