The food delivery service that is restoring people’s faith in humanity
- Credit: Archant
Restaurants all over the country have been forced to think fast on their feet if they want to adapt and carry on cooking for people during lockdown.
And Brandford’s in Caister, near Great Yarmouth, was in a better position than many to make the changes, generating a small amount of cash flow and shifting gear to help the vulnerable and homeless.
Tyrone Harold, who owns a clutch of businesses across Great Yarmouth including seaside shops, saw his income vanish overnight when confinement became official.
But, because he also has an outdoor catering company Whelan Bespoke Catering he was able to avoid the insurance pitfalls that frustrated other eateries switching to takeaway and delivery services, and come up with a genuine way to help people trapped at home.
Delivering freshly-cooked meals to close to 200 people a week from Brandford’s kitchen at The Old Hall, including a Sunday roast, has kept a team of volunteer chefs busy.
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And the response has been heartwarming, he says.
MORE: Norfolk man who captained Concorde dies from coronavirus“I looked at what I could do with Whelan Bespoke Catering to help customers that normally come to Branford’s to start with, and where I could help those in the community - especially those with long term letters who were struggling to get supermarket delivery slots.
“So we put together a menu of home-cooked meals, cooked fresh that morning and delivered cold for them to freeze or warm up later.
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“It is fresh, decent, traditional food to fit the age dynamic we are looking at.
“We did it for £8 a head for two courses and I have been really pleased that it has not been taken advantage of and that the people we want to deliver to are the ones receiving the meals.
“They are a decent size and some elderly people are making them last two meals or having one between two.”
Since then Mr Harold has been approached by Great Yarmouth Borough Council to help feed the homeless who were quickly housed in the town’s hotels and B&Bs after lockdown.
Mr Harold said at one point the company was delivering around 80 meals, some to newly homeless people, among them victims of domestic abuse.
Having an address meant those that had received emergency housing were back in the system and receiving benefits and he was now only delivering to around 15 people who had a roof over their head but no money.
MORE: NHS coronavirus contact tracing app to be trialled - but how will it work?Meanwhile, under an ingenious sponsorship scheme from Caister Football Club more than 200 vulnerable people had received a treat meal for free.
The project called Step Up To The Plate saw a deserving or needy person nominated for a free Whelan meal cooked at Branford’s and paid for by the club’s sponsors.
Mr Harold, a father-of-four, from Bradwell, who has run Kingfisher Boxing Club for some 30 years, said one letter from a lady in Ormesby summed it up.
The woman in her 90s said in a thank you card that she had been having a bad day but the surprise delivery of a meal to her door paid for by a stranger had “restored her faith in humanity.”
Mr Harold said the coronavirus pandemic with all its health and economic challenges had been “a massive shock to the system.”
“All my businesses have closed down,” he said.
“But I am a big believer that you can sit at home and cry in your tea, or you can get on and do something.
“We have tried to help as much as we can.
“We have had some amazing cards, and carers ringing up and looking after people and keyworkers too.
“People have been overjoyed to get a knock on the door and a meal delivered.”
He also hailed the contribution of his wife Kim who calls elderly customers if she doesn’t hear from them for a day or two, and organises birthday and anniversary cards to be sent to their homes.