Food nourishes community connections



We are proud to share our ninth article as we continue our ten-year anniversary series of ten lessons learned as designers, makers, social entrepreneurs and community members. This piece focuses on our People's Kitchen initiative and the insights we have gained into building community, fostering connections, and the joy of sharing a meal together. 

Food has a unique power to break down barriers and bring people together from all walks of life. Acting as a gateway into culture, history, and identity, sharing a meal with someone offers a glimpse into the time-honoured traditions that are lovingly passed down through generations. Food is a vital building block of community, creating memories, forging connections, and building lasting bonds. 

People's Kitchen

In 2015, we launched the People's Kitchen, grounded in our belief that food nourishes the spirit, just as much as our bellies. Ever since, we’ve been sitting down with our neighbours once a month to share a delicious, free, healthy meal together, fighting food insecurity and social isolation in one of London’s most deprived wards. Goldfinger co-founder and CEO Marie Carlisle’s passion for food first sparked the idea to set up the People’s Kitchen:

“Food has always been my first love. Growing up across multiple continents in a French-Chinese family, I saw time and time again how food has the power to break down barriers, create meaningful conversation, and bring people closer together. The idea for the People's Kitchen was born out of those experiences. Food is so much more than physical nourishment - it's how we nourish each other's souls." - Marie Carlisle, Goldfinger co-founder and CEO

People’s Kitchen provides a healthy, free, nutritious meal for our neighbours.


2023 marked the first full year returning to our in-person gathering, following our weekly food delivery service introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the third Sunday of every month, we welcome our community for an afternoon full of chatter, live music, and, of course, delicious food cooked by Panella, our on-site family-friendly Sicilian cafe. Giuseppe di Matteo, Panella’s culinary mastermind, transforms surplus and donated food into a veritable feast, cooked and served to local residents by our growing team of volunteers. In today’s landscape of shrinking social services and soaring inflation, local initiatives like the People’s Kitchen have become more vital than ever.

Bringing people together

Every month, the People’s Kitchen turns Goldfinger into a buzzing hub of social activity. Walking by and looking in, you might see families with young children sitting together alongside elderly members of the community, and friendly volunteers offering you to join in and take a seat at the table. “People’s Kitchen transforms Goldfinger into the Town Hall of Golborne Road for a day.” shares Effy, Community Outreach Programme Manager at Goldfinger, who has led the People’s Kitchen as a volunteer coordinator since 2022. “As a volunteer you feel like an active part of building community connections, even if all you do is offer a cup of tea and sit down with someone”.

Gina, a local resident, first came along to People’s Kitchen after an injury left her unable to cook for herself. She has found it to be “an invaluable community resource” ever since:

“Gathering over a shared meal enables connections that can be hard to find when people are isolated. Before coming to People's Kitchen, I would walk by neighbours on the street without really knowing them. Now we share a meal together and say hello when we pass each other. I have made wonderful, unexpected connections here. People's Kitchen is a space to share support and love.” - Gina

The long-lasting impact of the pandemic has seen many community centres either reduce their services or close altogether. Spaces where people can come together and build connections are few and far between. The People’s Kitchen is an open, no-questions-asked gathering where everyone feels welcome, and where chance encounters can become life-changing moments.

People of all ages, from all walks of life, share a meal together.


One of our long-term beneficiaries, Michael* (*name changed to preserve anonymity), recently found a new friend in a first-time People’s Kitchen attendee. “Unexpected connections, like this one right here, have so much meaning”, Michael told us, gesturing across the table at his new companion. “We are social animals. Connection and conversation cures depression - it gives people hope.”

His dining partner chimed in: “I have very limited opportunities in my life right now. In coming here, I was given two different numbers to get advice and help from. The person I’ve just met and had a conversation with today gave me some support and help over some food, tea, and cake - this is community.”

Alleviating food insecurity

“At a time when many struggle just to pay their bills, People's Kitchen brings the community together.” - Gina

The cost of living in London has gone up by a shocking 24% in the last three years. The effects of rising inflation can be sorely felt by everyone, making food insecurity a shared experience for many members of our community. Across London, more than 100,000 working families have less than £3 a day to spend on food. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people accessing food banks. According to the Felix Project’s 2023 Impact Report, 53% of community organisations in the UK have seen an increase in people in full-time employment seeking food support, with demand expected to rise in the next 12 months.

People’s Kitchen provides a healthy, free, nutritious meal for our neighbours.

The cost of living crisis is just one of many reasons initiatives like People’s Kitchen are essential for providing access to healthy and nutritious food. As a small social enterprise, we’re nimble enough to respond to our community’s needs.

Linda* (*name changed to preserve anonymity), a local resident and grandmother, has been coming along to the People’s Kitchen for three years, and has seen its impact on the wider community in these difficult times:

“Since the recession, there’s a lot of people who struggle to buy food. The fact that we can come to People’s Kitchen and have a hearty meal for free is amazing for community cohesion” - Linda*

Enriching the community

People’s Kitchen is a unique offering to the local neighbourhood, providing a warming meal and nurturing conversations, as well as a meeting place for neighbours to gather and connect. These precious spaces are sometimes undervalued resources in our society, but are vital for creating strong community bonds.

”What makes People's Kitchen truly special is the way it brings people together and the caring spirit behind it.” - Gina

Each December we hold a special Christmas-themed People’s Kitchen, full of festive cheer.

Making a difference

The People's Kitchen celebrated serving 10,000 meals to the local community in 2022. Since then, with up to 60 local residents attending each service, we have given more than 12,000 meals to date (as of February 2024) - something we could not have achieved without the generosity of our supporters, sponsors, and volunteers.

"Volunteering at People's Kitchen for just over a year has provided me with local contacts, some temporary employment, and a wealth of developmental opportunities, in addition to providing a service to the community in which I live." - Wilson

With your support, we can make an even greater impact. Each £5 donated funds a meal for a neighbour in need. By giving £25, you could feed a family of 5.

Sponsoring one of our services helps us to guarantee support to our community in these difficult times. To find out about sponsorship opportunities, and how you can make a difference, please get in touch with us at

Goldfinger celebrates 10,000 meals in 2022 with a visit from Councillor Gerard Hargreaves, then-Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.



*Note: We use pseudonyms for People’s Kitchen beneficiaries who prefer to remain anonymous.


Felix Project’s 2023 Impact Report

Trust for London (2023), London’s Cost of Living Tracker