At the No 10 drop-in centre On Europe’s busiest shopping street - Oxford Street - actor Larry Lamb cooked and served dinner to people experiencing isolation and homelessness.
Mr Lamb was filming at the centre with Bournemouth University students*, who were working on their final project as part of their Television Production course. For their cookery-talk-show-style production, the students advised Larry that he would be cooking for ‘a select group at a West End location’. Arriving at Oxford Circus, Mr Lamb was introduced to the staff and visitors to No 10.
Regulars welcomed Mr Lamb – best known for his roles as Archie Mitchell in EastEnders and Mick Shipman in Gavin and Stacey - who created, with the help of staff member Glenn Romanov, spaghetti Bolognese and then served the dinner to his guests.
No 10 provides support to people experiencing isolation and homelessness in Westminster, with as many as 5,000 people visiting the drop in each year to seek support. From Monday to Friday, keyworkers provide focused support and signposting to appropriate services (including accessing accommodation where possible), general support such as providing fresh clothes and shoes, bedding, emergency food parcels and a hot meal, as well as running a programme of activities.
The weekly programme of activities was created to engage clients and provide meaningful respite from the stress of street living, isolation and loneliness. Fun activities such as table tennis competitions and a film night are among events taking place.
No 10’s service manager, Annette Watts, said: ‘Anyone can end up experiencing homelessness at any time whether that is through the breakdown of a relationship or the loss of income. We provide a place of safety for people to come to catch their breath and find an oasis and rest from the stress of the situation they are in. They can find support to help get back on their feet so they can then go on to reach their full potential.
‘We’re pleased we were able to share with Larry Lamb and the students recording their final project the valuable work we do as we offer compassionate support, practical help and a listening ear to people experiencing homelessness in Westminster.’
Between filming shots for the students’ project, Larry talked to drop-in guests about his love of cooking – picked up from his grandmother – and shared anecdotes about his first jobs aged five, as ‘official tea-maker in the house’ and, aged seven, in his father’s fish and chip shop peeling spuds.
Mr Lamb said of his visit: ‘My impression of The Salvation Army is that they are people who choose to do something positive for society and at No 10, there is a sense of welcome and of peace – whatever else goes on in the wide world there’s order in here and a sense of wellbeing for the people coming in.’