Hi, I’m Michelle. I have worked in the front of house at The Clean Plate in Gloucester since November 2019.
While we sadly had to close the doors to our much-loved community and customers when lockdown began in March, we felt very strongly that we still had something to offer the community and support those in need during these unprecedented times.
At The Clean Plate, we rapidly adapted the way we work and moved from making freshly cooked meals to order, to mass-cooking fresh ingredients and freezing ready meals on site and delivering them to our community in Gloucester. As you can imagine this was quite a change.
We teamed up with The Long Table, who are based in Stroud, and became part of the Feeding the 5,000 project with the Diocese of Gloucester. The project aimed to reach the most vulnerable in our community and those isolated in these difficult times.
It’s really important to us that The Clean Plate be able to serve its community during lockdown. We support some of the most vulnerable people in society as they go through sometimes complex journeys. Thinking that we may not change the world, but we can make a world of difference to one person is what makes our work worth doing.
Our community supported us right back! We put a plea via social media and radio, (thanks to BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Gloucester FM) and the kind-hearted people of Gloucestershire donated and loaned freezers to The Clean Plate so we could make our frozen ready meals for the community.
I was a regular customer at The Clean Plate before I joined on staff and I took part in the Cotswold Way Charity Walk last year to raise money towards the recent refurbishment.
I joined The Clean Plate because I believe in what we do. We are a not-for-profit organisation and we help and support individuals in the community who are looking to gain skills to get back into work after going through very difficult stages in life.
It’s not just for people who suffer with addiction, but for other setbacks in life as well, whether that’s trauma, ill health, ability and accessibility issues, or being a lone parent at home for a number of years.
We offer a comprehensive training program for volunteers including: running a kitchen, cooking, customer services, barista training, food hygiene training, and ensuring paperwork and daily checks are completed. Essentially the cafe is the responsibility of the volunteers and we want to give them the confidence boost and guidance to move into paid employment.
I’m 21 months sober now. When I was first introduced to the cafe (then called the Hub Bistro), I was in recovery from alcohol addiction and the support groups I attended told me about this wonderful space in Gloucester, where it was safe and I could meet supportive, like-minded people. They weren’t wrong. It was great to find this space not only for community support but for learning opportunities too.
The Clean Plate will re-open to the public in September 2020.