SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES: New Urban Kitchen opens to tackle local food poverty; iconic buildings – including Bradford Cathedral – captured in a welcoming mural created by local artist.

Jude’s Urban Kitchen and Cookery School, located in the former Bradford Brewery building on Rawson Road in Bradford, opened in September and are currently operating a soft launch.

Sue and Juli, in the Urban Kitchen, in front of Sue’s mural, shown here part way through creation.

As part of the opening, an impressive and dramatic mural is being created in the foyer by local artist Sue which includes various famous Bradford landmarks including the Alhambra theatre, City Hall, Little Germany and, in the top corner, Bradford Cathedral. The Wool Exchange was also included after topping a poll on the kitchen’s Twitter account.

We spoke to Juli and Sue about the Urban Kitchen to find out more about what they’re doing. The project began eleven years ago with the formation of ‘Inn Churches’, an organisation that provides practical support to those who need it most across Bradford.

Juli:
“People used to ask what we do, and we said we put the homeless in churches and the name stuck! We initially had seven churches and we do a rolling shelter model.”

The scheme now includes more churches, and has also been adopted in other cities as well.

“From that we’ve got over 1000 volunteers!

“About six years ago we started more purposefully delivering the food, and we worked with churches on different offers and how we could support those in the community. We now get food into our warehouse and redistribute it, and we see ourselves as a kingdom resource, for churches, community groups and beyond!”

Back in 2019, Inn Churches were offered the building that now houses the Urban Kitchen, free of charge by Shaw Moisture Meters Ltd, as a way of giving back to the city.

Inn Churches celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2020 and had planned ten events, which due to COVID haven’t taken place, but are instead offering the café and, next door a social supermarket and cooking school.

“The idea is that it’s for faith groups, non-faith groups, and community groups to use!”

Jude’s Urban Kitchen is currently on a soft opening, running a breakfast club, before opening regularly 10am – 2pm in November, alongside appointments.

“We don’t want to replicate what anyone else is doing; we just want to fill the gaps. We’re supporting organisations and churches on pop-up pantries.

“These will be an alternative to food banks. People will come in to collect food, and pay a little bit towards a membership. Part of that would then go to the Credit Union to help them start saving. It will help take the pressure off food banks – as they’re over subscribed at the moment – but will give people more autonomy and agency to choose their own food.”

Bradford Cathedral, as it appears on the mural.

The mural being created in the entrance to the Urban Kitchen has been a “real eye-opener” for artist Sue.

“I love painting and drawing things; I love light and shade, and I tend to paint in black and white, so it’s been very much studying how the light is captured on the buildings.

“I don’t usually paint buildings, so it’s been a really new area, and I’m loving it. It’s quite nice and relaxing now after the initial few days.”

Sue has been creating the mural in acrylics and spray paint, and has been creating it in short bursts as she recovers from illness and surgery. She spoke frankly about her experiences.

“I don’t think you ever imagine you’d ever become ill enough to restrict your life and control your activities. I always thought, I suppose, that it happened to other people.

“I would feel constantly tired, I would be breathless climbing the stairs. Fighting back to me was the only option. I needed to be strong enough to do a stressful, yet rewarding job, and also be the support to my children.

“For some years I was able to establish some equilibrium with my job and my life this way, but there was very little space at this time for interests and hobbies.”

It was around this time that Sue enrolled in an arts class, which included figure drawing. Up to this point life had just been work, children, chores and feeling unwell, and the classes became an escape. Following a subsequent breast cancer diagnosis, Sue picked up a sketch book and began to doodle.

“Over this week this progressed to getting my old paint brushes out and painting canvases, putting my feelings to canvas.”

Sue moved onto ceramics and became a regular at a local pottery studio, visiting in short blasts as her health allowed, bursts of creativity and expression punctuating the necessary rests.

“These put my life into perspective.”

Looking at her current mural project, Sue talked about picking the iconic buildings – such as Bradford Cathedral – after gathering together lots of photographs.

“We chose our favourites, and decided which ones to use, including the door of our old office on Chapel Street in Little Germany. There’s the Alhambra, a Mosque, the Cathedral, and I’m working next on the interior of the Wool Exchange, which will be in a sketch style.

“I’ll also be putting in a white rose for Yorkshire of course!”

Sue said she found it refreshing to do something different to her usual style.

“I’m painting what I’m really seeing, not what I think I’m seeing! It’s been an eye-opener, thinking about angles and analysing it.

“Negative space has also been very useful – it’s all very interesting!”

We concluded our chat with them about their hopes, in a time of change, for 2021.

Juli:
“In the context of COVID, a lot of things have been restricted, but I think there are a lot of possibilities: work around the food poverty agenda; bringing in community groups that have been isolated; and working with Rotary Club of Bradford Bronte – and others – to bring qualified people on board to go into churches to support them to develop them and their food offer.

“What’s been highlighted in this pandemic is that food has been a really vital part of the chaos, and solution, going forward, and we need to look at ways of supporting communities to access affordable food.”

Look out for more from Jude’s Urban Kitchen soon, including the completed mural featuring Bradford Cathedral! You can find out more about Jude’s Urban Kitchen and the social supermarket – 22 Shaw House – on the Inn Churches website and follow the kitchen on Twitter.

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