Ayrshire ‘social restaurant’ set for mutual aid for poor and isolated
Commonspace, by David Jamieson
A new ‘social restaurant’ is set to launch in Ayr with the aim of breaking down barriers created by poverty and isolation.
Volunteers behind the Unity Grill have raised over half of the £5000 in initial funds needed to launch the restaurant, which will see 100 per cent of its profits re-invested into tackling food poverty.
The restaurant, which is currently negotiating premises in the town of Ayr, is being designed as a welcoming environment where people can have a free meal from the profits raised by customers. However, organisers stress the project will be about community and mutual assistance rather than charity, and anyone in receipt of a free meal will be able to contribute to the project in non-financial ways if they choose.
Speaking to CommonSpace, one of the project founders Angela McNay said: “As food poverty and hunger rise across the country, breaking down the stigma attached to that has never been more important. Food poverty creates social isolation and loneliness. Unity Grill is an opportunity to start breaking down those barriers.
“Everyone will be welcome at our table regardless of their ability to pay.”
At the time of publication, Unity Grill had raised £2,650, to go towards the initial costs of setting up the restaurant, which organisers say will source as much of its produce as possible from Ayrshire in order to boost the local economy.
Unity Grill is a similar project in some ways to other social restaurant and social café ventures such as Social Bite, which has several outlets in Scotland. But it will differ in that that it is being established by local members of the Ayrshire community with the expectation that it will continue to be run and organised by the community.
It marks a shift in recent months in Scotland from the provision of food and other essentials through charitable efforts like foodbanks, towards efforts of mutual aid between working class people in their own communities.
The project is one of many which has grown up in response to the growth in destitution since the onset of major austerity measures across the UK from 2010, which has seen an explosion in the use of foodbanks and fuel banks (supply electricity to homes) across Scotland and the UK.