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General News

Greek-Iranian Woman, Once Homeless, Now Giving Back

LONDON, UK – Greek-Iranian Jojo Sureh, 31, once homeless as a child, set up Cook to Care, a catering service, in May to provide food for her South London neighborhood, SW Londoner reported on October 9.  

Sureh works in the charity sector and was on furlough from her job when she “self-funded Cook to Care and used her kitchen as a base to prepare meals for home delivery,” SW Londoner reported, adding that “Sureh was living in bedsits with up to ten people and her mother.”

Of experiencing homelessness as a child, Sureh told SW Londoner that “Before my mum and I became homeless, I had a very privileged upbringing.”

Her Greek and Iranian heritage “inspired her passion for food and she described it as a fundamental value,” SW Londoner reported.

Cook to Care provides “enough meals for a working week with food portions made of rice, curry and a salad,” SW Londoner reported, adding that “the food produce is donated by two food charities and the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nectarios in Wandsworth.”

People heard about the food service at first by “word-of-mouth and advertising in local shops,” SW Londoner reported, noting that Cook to Care “now averages more than 1,000 meals a week with assistance from 35 volunteers.”

Sureh “soon received a number of emails asking for help and she explained that she felt undignified and embarrassed that users felt the need to justify why they need the service,” SW Londoner reported, adding that an official Cook to Care website “is currently in development.”

“All meals are now made at The Marcus Lipton Youth Centre in Brixton and distributed by organizations such as the Lambeth Mutual Aid Group,” SW Londoner reported, noting that when Cook to Care began, “Sureh delivered meals across Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Wandsworth by foot or taxi, with some journeys taking up to four hours at a time.”

Cook to Care also “collaborated with Humanitarian Landscape Collectives, a group of landscape architects who restore barren spaces in London and use them for food growth,” SW Londoner reported.

“The idea is to revive as many areas as possible that would otherwise be underutilized,” Sureh told SW Londoner, adding that she “believes reviving greenery can help create safe spaces for gang affiliated youths involved with postcode wars.”

Cook to Care’s GoFund Me page was set up May 10 and has received almost £4,000 in donations towards the goal of £5,000. As Sureh noted on the GoFundMe page, “The initial idea was to help our vulnerable neighbors in Streatham Hill and in just four weeks those first 40 something meals, by ever-growing demand, quickly became over 500.”

Sureh explained told SW Londoner, “I’m just a normal person and this is what I’m doing.”

She “believes serving meals will not solve food poverty in England, but questions how to prevent it,” SW Londoner reported.

“COVID-19 has shown it can happen to any of us. There is a lot of fixing to do,” Sureh told SW Londoner.

More information about Cook to Care’s fundraising effort is available online: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/cook-to-care.

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