Part of the charity Mercy in Action, the Petra Project provides supported accommodation for mums under 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the South West.
The project currently runs out of two ‘family style’ homes in Bath and Trowbridge and receives a weekly delivery of good quality surplus food from FareShare South West, which is used to create healthy, nutritious meals for the mums and their children. Family support worker Charlotte Donovan, says: “Referrals are mostly from council housing services, however occasionally a mum will come straight from the hospital with their newborn via a midwife referral if they do not have a safe or suitable place to go to. Some of our mums were sofa surfing for months, or living in cramped conditions with their families without room for them and their new baby.
Charlotte explains that the food from FareShare South West plays a key part in tackling the social isolation the mums can experience. “Being a single mum can be very lonely at times, especially if you are estranged from, or living far away from, your family, and especially if you have added complexities such as mental health conditions.
“Cooking and sharing a meal together involves lots of social experiences for everyone, of us including the babies in their high chairs. The food acts like a ‘glue’ – bringing us all together. In terms of emotional and physical wellbeing, we, as a
housing project, in conjunction with FareShare South West can meet the basic needs of our residents by providing food and shelter so they can focus on parenting and preparation for independent living.
The deliveries from FareShare have made a noticeable impact on the quantity of food the Petra Project can provide its residents and the quality of nutritious meals we can prepare for their mums and babies.
Charlotte explains: “Recently we received a large quantity of butternut squash, and one of our younger mums (18) who had said on many occasions I’m a fussy eater and don’t like any veg, not only helped our support worker Mandy prepare the soup, but tried it and said it wasn’t that bad; before continuing to finish the bowl!”
“We love the fact that we have the opportunity to coach and encourage our mums to prepare home cooked meals, and they will hopefully continue to do so for years to come in their own family homes. This is all the more possible thanks to FareShare South West.”