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Bournemouth

The Bournemouth Beacon actually covers the conurbation of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch on the South Coast.
Our aim is to organise interesting monthly or bi-monthy gatherings in various locations across the area based around the idea of a supper club, and will include an interesting speaker, a little debate, some fun, perhaps a little music but always a fire and a call to action. We want to extend friendship to other socially conscious souls and also help spread the Campfire word.

Beacon's call to action moves from the fire to the soup kitchen

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It was late when we dragged ourselves from the warmth of the fire and it was difficult to sleep but I was excited at the success of our first meeting. It really felt like the change starts here

It has taken a couple of days to reground myself in the wake of so much powerful positive energy and goodness that engulfed all of us around the fire at the first Bournemouth Beacon meeting on Thursday. It has also taken that long to find all the missing stuff that @Cate Baker (Cate-Baker)@ and @Clare Ryalls  shoved in various cupboards and drawers while they took over my kitchen to create the fantastic Mexican plant-based feast we shared on the night!

It’s difficult to know where to start...

Before diving into our first meeting the three of us had decided we wanted our Beacon to always have the following:

1 A speaker from the local community - preferably one that was engaged in doing something positive that we could either support or be inspired by.

2 A plant-based supper - Cate and Clare are passionate about the positives of vegan food.

3.  A call to action - to try and take all the well-meaning discussions from just talking into some kind of action without making members feel obliged or guilty if they can’t or don’t want be involved. 

4. A fire.

Bournemouth is one of three towns  - huddled seamlessly, together on the beautiful South Coast of England and residents don’t tend to consider themselves living in just one, more belonging to the conurbation of Poole, Christchurch and Bournemouth so our Beacon, while called Bournemouth, actually encompasses all three.

Cate and Clare were slightly nervous of catering for so many - we sold tickets for the supper club at £20 with the intention of profits going to the speakers’ cause - but they didn’t need to worry as everyone loved the food and were astonished that the two of them were not actually professional cooks! We feasted on Nachos, Chilli and rice and Chocolate pots. Divine food and all plant-based.

Our first speakers were Sam and Mary from The Hope For Food Kitchen in Bournemouth and between them delivered far more than we ever expected. The official figures for homelessness in the town is set at 10 but around 80 people are fed regularly at the four-times a week food kitchens in various locations. The pair also revealed they have been contacted by schools to request food for hungry children and also have been asked for 700 food and toy parcels for families in the conurbation. 

The surprise on our comfortable middle-class faces was clear. 

We live in an area of almost 100 per cent employment and the council has so much money from tourism and full-paying council tax residents and second home owners that we have solar powered recycling bins along the sea front! How could it be possible to have people struggling like this in our area?

Many of us present were of the belief that there was accommodation for those who wanted it and that people on the streets had somehow made a 'choice’ of sorts. This used to be the case, but not for many years now and there was simply not enough accommodation to go around.

Mary and Sam choked back tears as they told us of an old man who who died on a seafront bench, alone and of the four children whose parents died leaving the eldest struggling to hold on to the family home and head the household. He is 18 and his youngest sibling is 10. 

He is classed as an adult. 

We asked questions and dispersed, slightly subdued, to eat the wonderful food that awaited us but as I walked around the group there was a hum of conversation that quickly became a buzz, a buzz of compassion, an energy of generosity - the help was flooding in!

Mary and Sam were overwhelmed by the respect and the support - the genuine and immediate offers of help. 

They felt they had been listened to.

They had.

We gratefully filled our bellies and made our way out into the still, warm November night and gathered around the fire.

That fire, in my garden felt very much like an ancient pow wow. Only a few of us knew each other but those who were able to stay spoke clearly and compassionately while the rest of us listened and every single attendee offered some level of support.

From a lovely man called Martin pledging to source funding from the Masons, to offers to make food, serve at the kitchens and collect parcels. We even had a wonderful man offering a retreat in Dartmoor.

Everyone agreed they could do something, however small.

Sam and Mary choked back their emotions again.

It was clear they cared deeply about they people they feed.

It was also surprising how little they need from volunteers. One hour on an ad hoc basis is all it takes to help at the kitchen. A rota is done each month and volunteers don’t need to commit to a set day - all help is immensely useful. Volunteers can offer to collect things, cook a big dish of something, bring a few clothes, collect the donations from supermarkets or serve at the kitchens. It takes no time at all.

It was late when we dragged ourselves from the warmth of the fire and it was difficult to sleep but I was excited at the success of our first meeting. It really felt like the change starts here.

I am writing this just over 48 hours after our gathering and already The Bournemouth Beacon call to action has achieved the following:

 

1 Given £300 profits from the supper to the charity

2 Clare and I used all the apples I recently scrumped from a neighbours tree to make 38 portions of fruit crumble and custard which we delivered last night, along with 30 portions of vegetable chill and rice.

3 We purchased and last night delivered:

      80 pairs of new mens underwear

      45 toilet rolls

      40 packs of wet wipes

      20 shower gels

      20 toothpaste

      20 tooth brushes

      11 tubs sudacrem

      10 pairs of thermal insulated gloves

       50 pairs of warm socks

      8 bottles of talcum power.

4. Three of us have already served at the soup kitchen and two are going tonight. They only need you for an hour!  

5. In addition our Beacon wants to look at setting up a community farm and a group of us will be setting up a meeting with the council to see if we can persuade them to give us some land. We would like to offer the homeless the chance to work on the land and learn skills - one of our attendees has been organic farming for 16 years and wants to get involved.

6. We are planning to set up a Co-operative food store.

7.  Three members - who hadn’t met before are looking to join forces to set up a plant-based pop up cafe venture and will pool their resources and donate 10 percent of profits to good causes.

8. Set up a Bournemouth Beacon summer event on a farm in the Purbecks with camping, music, art and palntbased food, yoga and workshops - and a campfire!

9. Speak to the local newspaper to arrange support for the Christmas Food Parcel campaign.

Phew! that’s it for now.

If you want me, I will be with Clare at the outdoor Food Kitchen at 6pm tonight  - I expect to be home at 7.30pm! 

Seriously that’s all it takes.     

Join the Bournemouth Beacon now!

 

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73

Pete Lawrence

Amazing work! Very exciting...

1015

Andy Scaysbrook

Brilliant night Kimm. What a great outcome from what was a really enjoyable social. Amazing what can be done when like minded people get together.

2176

Lily Rose Sequoia

Well done! What an achievement! And a great guideline for other Beacons... x

2019

Gillian Beddows

Lovely story, no thats wrong lovely action and very well written ...and very inspiring x