Solomon Smith, Mahamad Hashi, Issac Beng and Micah Lammie from the Brixton Soup Kitchen on Coldharbour Lane, are challenging stereotypes by helping families across London stock up on uniforms and school supplies.
“There’s a lot of stigma around boys from Brixton,” says Solomon Smith, “but I wanted to think about how we could change that narrative.
“We’ve not just set up a soup kitchen in Brixton, but one in West London.”
Since 2018, the team have also been working with corporate sponsors to organise back-to-school events to help families who are struggling, but last year’s event had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
“When it comes to the last part of the six-week holiday, a lot of parents are under pressure,” explains Solomon. “There are parents who can’t afford school meals, how do you expect them to buy a new uniform?
“The main thing is for them to realise they’re not alone and there is a service here to help.”
Throughout the lockdowns, the team have continued to deliver food, face masks and hand sanitiser to people who need it.
The Brixton Soup Kitchen was set up in 2012, when the team were shocked by the homelessness that they were seeing locally.
“Lots of people were begging for food,” says Solomon. “People were going into Tesco and Iceland and stealing. I know what the effects of that will be – that person will get a criminal record.”
“I just wanted to use my contacts to help people,” he adds. “Nothing can beat the feeling of someone saying ‘Thank you so much’.”
The first event back-to-school event was held at The Avenues Youth Project, in West London, on 23 of August and the next will take place at the Brixton Soup Kitchen, 279 – 299 Coldharbour Lane, tomorrow (1 September) from 2 to 5pm.
All families with children aged four to 16 are welcome to attend.
The team are keen to build community links and welcome anyone to come along and eat with them on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays, from 11am to 5pm.
“We always say, ‘smell the jerk and it will bring you right to us’,” Solomon says.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Brixton Soup Kitchen, email your availability to: firstname.lastname@example.org.