In 2016, Jayne Kyprianou was serving on the Stake Primary Presidency of Poole Stake. After hearing Elder Kearon’s April 2016 talk, Refuge from the Storm, the Primary Presidency wanted to do something to help refugee children who were arriving in their area.
After a lot of prayer and discussion, they ended up hosting an online auction and a cake sale. They beat their goal of raising £500, by raising just under £1,800.
The money raised was used to buy items for educational packs for the refugee children. These would be packed by Stake Primary children in a forthcoming Primary Conference.
During that time, the Stake Public Affairs Directors, Brother Roger Head and Sister Moira Head, began to have contact with Unity in Vision, Bournemouth, a voluntary group founded by members of ethnic minorities.
Unity in Vision was invited to attend the Stake’s Primary Conference, and this was the start of a great working relationship between the Church and Unity in Vision.
Following this, the Stake became involved in hosting monthly lunches at Bournemouth Chapel, refugees cooking the meals and practicing their English as they did so. The lunches were open to the local community.
These lunches involved not just people from Unity in Vision, but also representatives of the Westbourne Rotary Club (a local branch of the global Rotary organisation of volunteers). Through the work of Mr Greg Singleton, of Westbourne Rotary Club, funding and grants were awarded to help with the lunches and to put on an educational course for refugees and asylum seekers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, those involved in the work with Unity in Vision and the Rotary Club were already aware of people in need. Working together, and getting donations from various other organisations, they were able to cook and deliver meals five days a week (with extra meals delivered on Fridays to cover the needy families through the weekend).
Just under 18,000 meals were cooked and delivered to families and individuals in need in that first year.
LDS Charities were a great support throughout: Elder and Sister Miller, and then Elder and Sister Clegg, helped to get grants for various items of equipment. This included laptops to help with the educational courses, and kitchen equipment to help with the hands-on training for cooks, and for cooking the meals, throughout the pandemic.
On 16th April 2022, this Unity International Catering Project was awarded the Women’s Community Champion award at the BCP (Bournemoth, Christchurch, and Poole) International Women’s Day Symposium Awards. Sister Jayne Kyprianou was able to accept this award on behalf of the Church for their service in making the project so successful.
Since restrictions have lifted, the monthly lunches are again being hosted at Bournemouth Chapel. Also, there is a monthly Young Adult and Young Asylum Seekers’ afternoon at a local chapel, where board games are played, and a light meal is provided by Unity in Vision.
Currently, the project is still delivering food packages on Fridays to those that remain in need of extra support.