A LOCAL food charity has been able to put years of toing-and-froing behind them after being helped into a permanent home at The Bear Inn.

The Wivey Kitchen, which helps feed local people in need, is now cooking on gas thanks to the help of husband and wife landlords Jon and Millie Coward.

The couple helped fund the charity’s move into the premises - where they cook as many as 500 meals a week for residents of Wiveliscombe and the surrounding parishes. Millie said the pub wanted to do its bit to “give back” to the community.

She said: “They needed somewhere to go because they kept getting turfed out of places all the time, so they were always on the move. Obviously us being right in the centre of Wiveliscombe, had some space that we weren’t particularly using, we had a small kitchen space that we used for events and things like that.

“Now that we’ve got the four pubs we didn’t need that kitchen space any more, so they’ve added in some of their own equipment. I suppose the reason that we’re doing it really is that we’re a pub, in the centre of the community, and the community works for us, in terms of that we’re a busy little pub, well-supported by the community, and it works both ways: if you give back then you end up in a happy relationship where it works for everybody.

“As a pub it’s good to have things going on, so having the Wivey Kitchen there, it’s something going on, that isn’t organised by us, but it still adds to the buzz.”

Jon added: “We’ve always aimed to be in the centre location-wise and indeed part of the goings on and part of the support network. That was the original idea. I asked them if they would benefit from being in the centre of town and they said yes. And jumped at it.”

The chair of the food project, Kate Benson, said the new location was a vast improvement - having previously had to ‘pack and unpack’ their kitchen at previous sites, going back and forth with ovens and other equipment.

She said: “Thanks to Jon and Millie setting this up for us - they paid for the infrastructure to be put in place and we filled it with our kit - we no longer have to move every six months which had been a huge headache.

“We are putting down roots now, we don’t have to assemble and take down our kitchen each week, it’s there, it’s permanent, it makes life a lot easier.

“It is wonderful, every part of the organisation, which started with a group of enthusiastic volunteers, is now a professional operation. We are cooking around 350 to 500 meals a week of which 280 are delivered and the rest placed in accessible freezers.

“We have a very grownup organisation now with governance, policies, procedures and we are reaching the people we need to reach.”