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I stand on my doorstep at 8 pm on a Thursday evening along with millions of others and I clap. I clap because the men and women of the NHS and care sector deserve it. I clap because convention calls for it. I clap because in the midst of the self-isolated, keep your distance madness, the kindness of this simple act touches me.

Each week my neighbour seeks to make more noise than the previous week. To drown out the sound of air horns from the nearby haulage fleet piercing the night air with their call to the caring. Clapping evolved to banging his bin lid.  The bin lid evolved to a saucepan and wooden spoon. This week he constructed a makeshift drum kit with bins, pots, pans and two wooden spoons.

As he unwittingly delivered the iconic rhythm of Cozy Powell’s, Dance with the Devil, I found myself thinking about the Soul Kitchen.  Yes, the work of the NHS and care sector is vital and we are all so grateful to those who do it but there are others needing support. The Soul Kitchen supplies food and meals to the homeless and vulnerable in temporary accommodation.

The Soul Kitchen reaches across the gap we are all trying so hard to maintain and puts hot, nourishing food on the table of the often forgotten. So, as I unwittingly accompany my neighbour and feel my palms smarting, I am adding the Soul Kitchen to those who deserve to hear my appreciation.

Add to this worthy initiative, a long list of local Chester eateries such as Joseph Benjamin, Meltdown, Ring O’Bells, Death by Tacos, Da Noi, Atina Kitchen, Hanky Panky Pancakes, The Suburbs, Sweet Elements, Nando’s, Chip’d, Sticky Walnut and Covino.

Why am I adding this list?  The reality is the future of the food and drink sector is uncertain right now.  A sector which involves many thousands of people and is driven by a passion for food and drink is standing virtually idle desperate for the opportunity to do what it does best. How we need to shape the sector to let that happen is unfolding slowly and burdened with as many questions as we have answers.

So the owners and management teams behind those eateries already mentioned have every reason to be pretty selfish right now.   Instead of waiting for Rishi’s rescue or holding out for Boris’s bravado, these guys have set aside their own unenviable challenges.  They have opted to throw their weight behind Soul Kitchen.   They are preparing food, donating meals, providing hands-on support to allow Soul Kitchen to fulfil its objective.

In the face of uncertainty standing in their idle kitchens, they could have just rattled those pots and pans on a Thursday night.  Instead, they are the supply chain for Soul Kitchen, cooking and reaching out to a neighbour in need.

Maybe you might want to add them to your applause as I have added them to mine.  Kindness makes palms smart, hearts warm and bellies bulge…. perfect in these challenging times.