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An East London nursery has been teaching children the value of sharing and helping others by preparing hot meals for the homeless.
Scallywags Nursery in Suttons Lane, Hornchurch, sets time aside every Monday to donate a variety of meals to a night shelter belonging to local charity, Hope4Havering.
Owner of the nursery, Emma Reynolds, became involved after she noticed a stark increase in homeless people in Havering and searched online for ways to help out. After making contact with Hope4Havering, she started volunteering at the charity one night a week with her son Benjamin.
She said: "The children and families at Scallywags Nursery have really got behind this cause. Each Monday the children bring in some of the ingredients ready to cook a nutritious meal for the residents at Hope4Havering.
"It gives the children an understanding of their community and helps them to be kind to others."
When most people think of homelessness they think of someone sleeping on the streets. However, hidden homelessness is rife in London.
Nationwide, it affects 400,000 people in the UK at any given time, and the vast majority of homeless people exist out of sight in hostels, temporary accommodation such as B&Bs, sofa-surfing (moving between friends’ houses), squatting and living in conditions of severe overcrowding.
Ms Reynolds and her son began collecting blankets and bedding three years ago and delivered them to those in need on the streets of London.
But after seeing an increase in people living on the streets in the borough, she got in touch with Hope4Havering, to find out if the nursery could offer some extra help.
The five-year-old charity - which provides accommodation for a night, hot meals, advice, and helps to move people into more permanent accommodation - now receives meals almost every week from the nursery children.
From preparing shepherd’s pie and sausage casserole, to creating vegetable soup and samosas, the children at Scallywags are helped by the nursery staff to transform the ingredients into tasty, nutritious meals.
Although the children have not been able to visit the shelter just yet, Ms Reynolds said she has shown them pictures of some of the people eating their food.
Local resident and founder of Hope4Havering, Kim Merry, has been running the charity for more than five years and is always looking for volunteers and donations to keep the charity running.
At present, Hope4Havering has to travel from church-to-church every evening, as they do not have a permanent location. This means transporting, beds, food and belongings.
Welcoming the nursery's 'heartwarming generosity', Ms Merry said: "I think it’s incredible that the children at Scallywags Nursery are helping the residents at the charity.
"It’s important that they also develop an awareness of the needs of the world around them from an early age."
Hope4Havering is a local registered charity serving the homeless community in Havering. For further information on the charity go to: www.hope4havering.org.