While Unique Venues of London’s suppliers can normally be found catering for beautiful weddings or corporate events, providing production for concerts and entertaining party guests with a range of live acts, the current environment calls for something different.
A number of these talent-rich companies are supporting their communities in a variety of ways as they adapt to the current, unprecedented situation.
From providing meals for NHS workers and others in need to raising money through music featuring some of the UK’s biggest stars, here are some of our dedicated suppliers who are making a difference during this challenging time:
Blue Strawberry recently delivered fruit baskets and other edible treats for the incredible NHS heroes at UCLH to support its partner, Splunk. The gesture was made to thank all the essential keyworkers for their dedication and hard work during this time.
Bubble Food is working on an initiative to support the fridge and foodbank at St George the Martyr Church on Borough High Street. The facility operates as a distribution centre for people with foodbank vouchers from the Waterloo Foodbank, serving vulnerable, elderly, very low-income and homeless people. The not-for-profit collaboration aims to produce 100 nourishing meals a day for a period of at least one month.
Bubble Food will be using its kitchen premises, chefs, food packaging and administrative team to operate the scheme, with financial donations for the purchase of fresh produce to make the meals. The cost of ingredients for 100 meals is £450.00 and donations are encouraged via a Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/supporting-the-local-community-with-prepped-meals.
As part of the Mealforce initiative, By Word of Mouth has been creating nourishing, hearty meals for London’s frontline NHS Heroes.
The catering company has safely delivered thousands of meals to Kingston Hospital and thousands more will be going out daily. The By Word of Mouth team is delighted to be supporting the fight against COVID-19 in the best way it can, by providing delicious dishes made with love, care and huge gratitude to NHS carers.
Event Concept were proud to bring together several Unique Venues of London member venues to support the #makeitblue campaign which is running alongside #clapforourcarers. #makeitblue was started by Gary White and Chuck Crampton as a way the events industry could pay tribute to those on the front line.
With the help of Historic Royal Palaces and Paragon Projection, Event Concept’s Senior Technical Project Manager Kris was able to project a message of support, thanking the NHS and key workers, onto the iconic White Tower at the Tower of London.
Closer to home, Event Concept wanted to pay tribute to its team's loved ones: Kris's wife and Marita's husband who both work for the NHS, Kelly, their Floral Operations Manager who has been making masks and Ashling who has returned to help on the front lines.
Lastly, it was an opportunity for Event Concept to celebrate its event industry friends who are working hard to provide essential services. In particular, the catering companies they work so closely with: Bubble Food, By Word of Mouth, Food Show, Moving Venue, Rhubarb, Rocket and Zafferano.
Moving Venue recently reopened their kitchens to support the incredible COOK-19 initiative.
Angela Hartnett, its Culinary Creative Director, got in touch regarding her friend Lulu Dillon’s inspirational mission to produce home cooked meals for the NHS, who are working tirelessly at this difficult time. It soon became apparent that this could be scaled up very quickly, and as a result, a team of chefs from Moving Venue have been in the kitchen producing quality cooked meals from donated ingredients to go alongside wonderful care packages.
This has also involved many furloughed team members who have been volunteering their time to cook, pack and deliver. It has been a huge success so far, complete with cookies made by Claudia Winkleman and drivers as glamorous as Dominic Cooper and Gemma Chan. Moving Venue are currently producing over 6,000 meals a week for 10 hospitals and have raised over £100,000 to support these efforts. The project is continuing to scale up with Hawksmoor and Wahaca now also involved.
Payne & Gunter may not be delivering exceptional dining experiences in Unique Venues of London right now, but they are going the extra mile and using the present lockdown to help those around us.
The caterers are proudly supporting their Levy colleagues by distributing 13,000 freshly cooked meals each week to the NHS Imperial Trust who support key workers dealing with vulnerable groups and charity organisations within the local community. Their logistics team has been working hard behind the scenes planning routes, amending schedules, loading vans and delivering these much-needed packages. This team has also played an essential role in the project, ensuring that all the delicious pre-prepared meals have been delivered on time and to the right locations.
Payne & Gunter are also working behind the scenes to paint a clearer picture of what a return to a ‘new normal’ might look like for the wonderful events industry.
Rhubarb is proudly cooking thousands of meals a week, and delivering to, five NHS hospitals for the foreseeable future. Funded by Marshall Wace, the backer behind Mealforce and Helpforce, the catering company has been creating delicious dishes for our NHS heroes since the beginning of April.
Recently, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex joined the rhubarb chefs for a day of hard work at their kitchens in Southfields to prepare food for our NHS hospital teams.
Organised by Bentley Entertainment, rhubarb is part of a collection of catering and hospitality businesses from across the industry working together for this cause. There has never been a more essential time to support these incredible frontline workers and rhubarb is honoured to be able to help in some small way.
Seasoned Events have been working locally in Hertfordshire at one of their venues, Ware Priory. The catering company has been offering a delivery service of ready-made meals, fresh vegetables, fruit, salad, meat boxes and larder items like bread, milk and eggs to the most vulnerable in the community who haven’t been able to obtain food and supplies.
Their aim has been to offer a support service to the local community and also keep their team busy and working. Over the past few weeks, Seasoned have made over 400 deliveries in the local area.
White Light (WL) and its staff have found a variety of ways to help the NHS.
Haydn Davison, WL’s Operations Manager and its transport team have been delivering meals to two hospitals in London using its truck fleet, as a joint initiative with restaurant chain Corbin & King. On Easter Sunday, WL’s Facilities Manager Gary Riehl, printed rolls of sewing patterns for scrubs urgently needed by the NHS on A0 sheets. Mark Sutcliffe, WL’s Illuminate Venues Sales Manager, has been working with 3D Crowd to print and distribute face shields to NHS sites.
WL has also participated in two different #LightItBlue initiatives by donating blue filters to the Merton Civic Centre, and most recently, the entertainment lighting and audio-visual company dedicated a lightshow to our carers from its Wimbledon base.
Lastly, WL joined forces with Early Hours Ltd, Illusion DC and Momentum Engineers to create a giant Floral Rainbow tribute outside the UCL Hospital.
Photo credit: Binky Nixon
Brothers Dominic and Alexander Lyon of Young Guns have assembled over 100 music industry friends including Beverley Knight, Joss Stone, Omar, Josh Daniel, Ranj Singh, Blake & Escala as well as frontline NHS staff, to remotely record Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on Me’ to help raise money for the NHS.
Remarkably, the song has been recorded across 30 home studios by session musicians in isolation who naturally perform in the event & music industries. The music was produced in France by English producer Ben Mitchell and is the first time a track and video have been coordinated using remote studios on this kind of scale. A team of videographers and ‘MakeItBlue’ creatives put the video together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9BRGk-hZII.
‘Lean on Me’ is available on all platforms now: http://smarturl.it/nhs-lean-on-me.
100% of all proceeds go to charity, split between ‘NHS Charities Together’ and ‘You Okay, Doc?’, who support the mental health of doctors and healthcare professionals.
Like the rest of the hospitality industry, COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown hit Zafferano hard. However, with typical Zafferano grit, they didn't want to take it lying down and instead came up with "A Zaffy Idea”: an initiative to make use of the company’s empty kitchen and fleet of vans, and give work to their zero-hour chefs and porters.
The idea was two-fold: in addition to a Just Giving Page which generated over £4,500 from the company’s generous friends, families and private clients, they challenged their corporate clients to re-direct their hospitality budget and sponsor them to create nourishing meals for people made more vulnerable by COVID-19.
Zafferano currently has sufficient funding to keep going for three more months, by which they estimate that they will have created and delivered approximately 40,000 meals - all of which are being sent across London to feed those who need it most.
Zafferano are really proud that it’s helping thousands of vulnerable Londoners to feed themselves and their families at this time.