Volunteers at Mullion

Since November the good people of the rural parish of Mullion out on the Lizard Peninsula have been serving grateful locals with regular weekly ‘winter warmer’ lunches of hot soup and a roll, followed by homemade desserts.

Every Saturday lunchtime, they offer a choice of three freshly made soups (including a vegetarian option) and three different puddings with hot custard. It is, as they say, a properly substantial meal.

The initiative is organised by the parish church and supported by funds from the Diocese of Truro – who are contributing to the additional costs of heating the church during these cold winter months.

The majority of the volunteers who run the sessions aren’t churchgoers themselves, but are kind and concerned members of a community who have come together to help those most in need, and to support each other, through these times of extraordinary hardship.

This initiative is scheduled to continue till the end of March. It attracts about 25 people each week, but some weeks it has reached as many as 40. It is coordinated by Mary Cooper Brown.

“It’s going really well,” says Mary. Her enthusiasm for the project is very evident. “The thing that’s most inspired me is that, when we asked through social media for volunteers, we got more than 40 people offering to help – most of whom don’t come to church.

“I think the volunteers are really enjoying it. They’re glad to be doing something. So many people felt that, because of the economic situation, they really wanted to help out. This gives them the opportunity to do that.”

“It’s really lovely to be able to do something positive and practical to help out,” one volunteer said.

“This is what the church should be doing!” another added.

The project has worked in collaboration with the village’s community larder, which has been based in the local primary school. During the Christmas holidays, it moved into the church, which encouraged even more people to join the Saturday lunchtime events.

“Since Christmas,” Mary says, “we seem to be getting more people – and getting more people who really need it.

“It’s really nice to see that people are coming who really need our help. It’s also really nice to see children coming in – we have young families coming in and also a few teenagers coming on their own, as well as older people who tend to come every week.

“It’s open to everyone. There’s no stigma attached to it – it’s very much a mix of people.

“We always play music. It’s much more of a café vibe than a church vibe – even though it takes place in our beautiful ancient church, in amongst our beautifully carved pews.”

Many thanks

The people who come along have the opportunity to make a discreet donation to the costs of the project, if they so wish, but there’s no expectation on anyone to do so.

“We’ve been amazed how generous people have been,” Mary says.

Indeed, the church has been able to donate funds from these contributions and from its weekly collections towards the relief efforts supporting those affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and the conflict in Ukraine.

In this way, Mullion’s parish initiative has been able to play its part in alleviating the impacts of both the cost-of-living crisis at home and humanitarian disasters which have devastated the lives of people in distant parts of the planet.

“In the past, people have criticized the church for being focused in on itself,” Mary says. “But we care a lot about what’s going on in the world and we respond to these emergencies as they happen.”

For that, there are people both near and far who will be grateful for the kindness and fellowship of the people of Mullion

“Thanks for such a variety of choice,” said one of the visitors to the winter warmer lunches.

“We’re going to miss these when they finish,” added another.

“The Bakewell tart was the best thing I’ve ever tasted,” said a third.

“But mostly,” says Mary, “they just say thanks.”

For the volunteers and supporters of this initiative, that gratitude of course makes all their efforts worth it.