More than 100 Jewish teenagers massed at the JW3 community centre on Sunday to pack portions of lentil curry to give to homeless people on London’s streets.
The young volunteers spent the “cookathon” evening preparing food and hearing first-hand about the issues facing those with no home at the onset of winter, before shipping the meals to charities Crisis and The Manna.
Gathering for the first of several weeks at the start of the academic year, the teens helped launch Project ImpACT, a volunteering programme comprising 15 communities across London, which days earlier had scooped a prize for innovation in volunteering at the Jewish Volunteering Network’s Awards.
Daniel, a young man who recently found himself homeless, was at JW3 to talk to the teens about sleeping rough, with 14-year old volunteer Adam Rohald later saying: “It made me think about everything I have and not to take it for granted.”
Talia Marchant, a Project ImpACT ambassador from Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, said it was “extremely inspiring to see so many young people coming together for such a good cause”.
She added: “There was an incredible atmosphere, the volunteers really enjoyed themselves. It was eye-opening to learn more about homelessness and what we can do.”
Chayil Fehler, the project’s founder and director, said the evening was one of several large-scale events planned for this year.
“Our focus is on participants being able to make an impact, and feel empowered to make a difference. It’s important for post bar and bat mitzvah youth to play an active role volunteering in their community and beyond, and understand how they can contribute to others less fortunate.”