Chiseldon pub praised for helping vulnerable and 'shielded' during crisis

By Jamie Hill - 28 April 2020

CommunityFood & Drink

The Smokehouse in Chiseldon, which was formerly The Patriots Arms, has been delivering food for free to the villages vulnerable and shielded residents.

Since the lockdown began and the pub was forced to close its doors, manager and chef Sanjay Dogra, 42, has been giving up his time to cook free meals for the village's most needy in the pub's kitchen.

The Smokehouse, which also has a takeaway service for local residents, has also been helping Swindon Volunteers deliver food to different groups throughout the Swindon area, including Tesco to thank the keyworkers there, the homeless temporarily housed at the GW Hotel, and to Prospect Hospice.

For the isolated and housebound vulnerable residents in Chiseldon, the Smokehouse delivers free meals five evenings a week, apart from Wednesdays and Sundays. The food varies from curries to pasta to vegetarian options and has become a lifeline for some.

Chiseldon resident Karen Summers, 60, lives with her partner Paul Pritchard, 63. She said: "It's a wonderful service and we can't help but shower The Smokehouse with praise. Paul's unfortunately got cancer and leukaemia and has to be shielded during this crisis and I'm locked down with him to keep him safe.

"The meals have been a godsend and they are really delicious. We had never been to The Smokehouse since it had been taken over but we will certainly be going there in the future once this is all over.

"It's so kind of them to be doing this and there must be so many people like us who really appreciate it."

Freelance wrtier Stuart Butter, 46, started out helping The Smokehouse by helping them with their social media and he helped Sanjay set up the page telling people that they would be helping out the more vulnerable of the village during the lockdown. But he has now moved onto delivering the food for The Smokehouse on a voluntary basis.

He said: "It's been fantastic. For some they just love the interaction as I deliver the food to their doorstep, obviously keeping my distance at the same time. It's just nice for them to see a friendly face.

"Others we leave on the doorstep and they'll come out once I'm back in my car but they give a cheery wave. I only volunteer by delivering and it's Sanjay who puts in the hard work but it is so lovely what he is doing and it's definitely appreciated during this time."

Sanjay has been a chef for the past 23 years and has worked all over the world.

He said: "We try and cook people a variety of different foods and I hope that they appreciate it.

"We had such plans for the business but once this crisis began, our immediate thought was 'what can we do to help?'. So we started doing takeaways and then started to do a free delivery service to the most vulnerable.

"There are so many people who are isolated at the moment. They're not able to get out to do a shop and this just takes some of the pressure off them. This is a way we can give back to the community of Chiseldon who have welcomed us so warmly."

You can contact The Smokehouse to let them know if you need help through their Facebook page or by calling the pub on 01793 740331.


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