Leon and Helen’s story
Out of the blue, Leon and his mum Helen found themselves invited to TLG Make Lunch at their local church in Hull. It was once a long and challenging 6 weeks, but now the summer break is one of their favourite times of the year.
"Before Make Lunch, school holidays were pretty long really. Financially I just get by and the club really helps. Some of the other mums struggle even more. So for those that can’t afford fish and all the other things they cook at Make Lunch, it makes a real difference – especially for people on low benefits.
Even if it’s just one meal, if you’re not cooking it does save you money to provide a meal for that day. If I know he’s been fed a proper meal at lunchtime it means I only have to give him something smaller later on. It’s much more manageable. I’ve heard other mums at Make Lunch saying, ‘I wish they did this every day.’
I can still remember the first time I came to the lunch club. It was so welcoming. My neighbours had knocked on the door because their kids wanted Leon to go with them and so I let him go. My next-door neighbour took him and I went to go and pick him up. He’d had such a brilliant time! He’d had some food but he’d also played lots of games too. So I started coming along too and that was nearly two years ago!
It’s marvellous. It makes me feel happy because I know that Leon’s taken care of. He’s getting a hot meal and he’s playing somewhere safe. It’s definitely building his confidence as well. It makes him happy – more happy than he was. He’s more chirpy about things because he knows he’s got friends and somewhere to go.
Make Lunch has given me a place to meet new friends too. Everyone is so friendly and it gets me out of bed. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Because of Make Lunch, I’ve started going along to church too. Our church meets on Friday nights and that’s really good for me. At first I just sat there because I didn’t want to get up and sing. I wasn’t against it; I just didn’t feel comfortable singing. So the first two times I went to church I just sat there but Leon really enjoyed the bits they’d organised for the kids and that made me keep going. I’m not even sure I’d have kept going if Leon hadn’t enjoyed it so much. But I continued going and gradually began to join in the singing. Now, I have a really good sing and I look forward to going! Once I go, I feel a lot better for having been. It’s helped my belief and my relationship with God has grown.
In fact, it’s totally changed my idea of what church can be. I like going, meeting everybody there, catching up with each other and finding out what’s going on in each other’s lives, having a good sing and giving to the collection. You had to be really serious in all the churches I’d been to before. But at this church, everybody’s just themselves so you wouldn’t even think you were at church really! It’s like a family.
Because of Make Lunch, I now work some voluntary hours in the church’s charity shop. I enjoy that and I know I’m appreciated. I like knowing that I’m helping.
Leon is 7 now and he’s always changing his mind about what he wants to do when he’s older. One day it’s a golfer, the next day it’s a taxi driver. But really, all I’m hoping for is that Leon’s happy.
With Make Lunch and church in our lives, I know I don’t need to worry about that.”