A CHARITY which tackles social isolation by getting people round the dinner table has been praised.

Our Community Kitchen was formed in 2018 and uses home-cooked meals to bring people together to tackle loneliness.

Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSP and a former Haddington and Lammermuir councillor on East Lothian Council, visited the group to see their work for himself.

The charity, based in Haddington Bowling Club, serves up meals to people four times a week.

Mr Hoy described Our Community Kitchen as “a great way of bringing people together”.

He said: “Our Community Kitchen is a vital resource for so many residents of Haddington and the surrounding area.

“The kitchen, which runs from Haddington Bowling Club, brings people together around one large table to enjoy fresh, healthy home-cooked food, allowing for friendships and connections to form. It also delivers homemade frozen food for people at home from the second lockdown.

'Form friendships'

“Our Community Garden has also been established at Meadowpark school playground in Haddington to bring people of all ages together to plant, grow, learn about fresh food, and cook outdoors in the garden area.

“The aim is to form friendships and connections, whilst providing a learning space.”

Our Community Kitchen (OCK) had to change the way it operated when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

That saw volunteers delivering meals to people who were stuck isolating in their homes.

Elaine Gale, who founded the Haddington group, said: “We have an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation across Scotland and we have created a charity here in Haddington to bring people together to form friendships over some good food.

“We have all benefited by making friendships, many of which have extended across our community, with people for example meeting up for coffee or going to the cinema.

“OCK has a wonderful atmosphere and we would never be able to deliver what we do without our fantastic staff team and volunteers, who work very hard.

“Also, the support from Haddington Bowling Club has always been outstanding.”