Muswellbrook's Red Door Community Kitchen a success story in its own right

ONE of the big success stories from BHP Mt Arthur Coal’s partnership with Upper Hunter Community Services (UHCS) is the continuing emergence of the Red Door Community Kitchen.

Following the announcement that the mining company would renew its four-year affiliation with UHCS to the tune of $1.14 million, the Muswellbrook facility is now an incorporated entity.

“We’re thrilled by its development – and the dedication of the volunteers,” UHCS’ Mel Atkinson said.

“The Red Door Community Kitchen was originally a collaborative effort between Upper Hunter Community Services, Uniting Church, Compass Housing, Muswellbrook Men’s Shed and local residents in 2013.

“UHCS worked within the kitchen on all fronts (volunteer training, cooking, serving, networking and a successful grant application - NPBS Society $25,000) to ensure its sustainability and valuable contribution to the town.

“Red Door also received funding through Compass Housing to refurbish and equip the kitchen at the Uniting Church in Bridge Street.

“It then hosted Muswellbrook’s first Christmas Day lunch for the disadvantaged and/or socially isolated members of Muswellbrook and its surrounding areas.

“At this function, approximately 20 volunteers offered their time to provide a wonderful experience to 40 of our community members in need.”

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, the Red Door Community Kitchen opened its doors on a fortnightly basis.

“It was embraced by the community and supported so generously by various organisations, businesses and individuals in town,” Mrs Atkinson said.

“During the winter months of 2014, the kitchen was open on a weekly basis.

“It was evident that there was a need in the community for it to operate permanently.

“The kitchen continues to stay open on a weekly basis, with an evening meal (once a month) introduced, too.”

Overton House client and Red Door Community Kitchen volunteer Simeon Ross has nothing but praise for the concept.

“I’ve been helping [out] there for six months,” the 18-year-old said.

“I like setting the tables, serving people and talking to the kids.

“The Red Door [kitchen] is important for the community.

“There are a lot of lonely people in the area.

“So, it gives them the chance to talk to others, as well as build their self-esteem.

“I like swapping the boring elements for fun – and I’m going to help at the [Muswellbrook] library, too.”