Words & pics by Adam Smith
Families struggling to cope during the pandemic are being offered a range of new services at Erdington’s Magnet Centre after a cash injection from the National Lottery.
A new food bank, online culinary classes, and a family support hub will open to help those in need next week – coordinated by the Midlands Greek and Cypriot Association, which own the centre.
Due to the sharp rise of domestic violence across Erdington since the start of the lockdown, there will also be help on hand for those needing advice or just someone to talk to.
Several organisations are working together to deliver the new services, including This Is My City which will help organise online cookery tutorials – with Lakis Greek Kitchen (LGK) also running the food bank.
The project is also part of the Commonwealth Games 2022 series of events.
Chef Xena Weakes cooked chicken noodle soup for the first online cookery lesson. She said: “I wanted to show how easy it is to cook something nutritional for all the family, my dish is fast to make and really tasty.”
Founder of LGK, Panikos Panayiotou, told Erdington Local: “We are delighted to be able to help families in Erdington in this very difficult time. Since the lockdown we have seen unemployment rising, poverty and child hunger increase as well as a shocking amount of domestic abuse.
“There are lot of local families who will really need our help, the first 35 families will get food from the food bank but most importantly we will teach them to cook healthy meals through digital cookery lessons.”
LGK community champion Leah Taylor is approaching companies throughout Erdington and Birmingham to donate to the new foodbank.
She said: “So far companies have been generous but we will always need lots of food because the demand is just so high at the moment.
“We are always looking for donations of essential food stuffs and I am hoping the business community of Erdington will be very generous for a great cause.”
The Midlands Greek and Cypriot Association purchased the Magnet Centre from the G.E.C in 1984 and has transformed the electric board’s erstwhile sports and social club over the last 36 years.
The centre now boasts St Lukes Orthodox Church, a Greek shop and café, and a community school.
There are also snooker rooms, a gym, a banqueting suite, and places to watch Greek and Cypriot TV channels. Several sports clubs also run from the centre which further maintains football pitches.
Centre manager Fotoulla Lytras said: “We are delighted to be able to host the food bank and family hub.
“We try and do as many activities for the Stockland Green and Brookvale community as we can at the Magnet Centre.”
The new international flavoured cookery classes are already being filmed and will include dishes from across the world, all with two things in common – the dishes will be easy-to-make and cheap.
This Is My City is a United Community Activity Network (UCAN) project with backing from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Community Programme – United By Birmingham 2022.
For more on the Midlands Greek and Cypriot Association,, visit www.midlandsgreek.org
For more information about This Is My City Birmingham visit www.thisismycitybham.org
To find out more about Lakis Greek Kitchen visit www.lgk.org.uk