On bitter winter days such as these, there’s a place in Dewsbury that will always offer warmth, a friendly face and a hearty meal.
Dewsbury Minster’s refectory been running for 20 years, with a team of dedicated volunteers dishing out homemade meals to all comers at an affordable price.
It has become something of an institution in the town – not only does it raise vital funding, it also helps the church fulfil its role as a place at the heart of the community.
The refectory is open to the public Monday to Saturday, 9.30am-2.30pm. Staff also serve soup, sandwiches and coffee for free to those on the margins of our society, who may not have the means to feed themselves.
The refectory was set up in 1995 with the help of European funding. At that time the church was only open on Sundays and Wednesdays but now the refectory and heritage centre ensure the building is a bustling centre of activity every day of the week.
“Churches are buildings that are there to serve the community,” said the Rev Canon Kevin Partington, rector of Dewsbury Minster.
“The refectory is one way we fulfil our mission”.
Apart from manager Marise Purdy and Janet Callaghan, the rectory team are all volunteers. They’re a diverse bunch – a happy family that give the refectory its homely feel.
Some have learning difficulties, others may be pupils on school placements, while many are just community-minded folk with a few hours to spare. One dedicated volunteer, Alison Margrave, has been working in the refectory for an impressive 19 years and has just been joined by her sister, Elaine.
“They are really important members of the team,” said Mr Partington. “This is more than a job to some people – it’s a means of building self-esteem and self-confidence.”
Mr Partington was keen to thank the people of Dewsbury for their support over the years, customers and organisations alike.
The Rotary Club of Dewsbury, for example, recently donated £500 to pay for the refurbishment of the kitchen.
The refectory is accessible for the disabled and promotes fair trade products.
And with a new menu and the same friendly service, its future looks bright indeed.