The winter months can be a particularly difficult time for vulnerable people in the community.

Harsh cold weather poses severe health risks to those who are homeless or vulnerably housed and the festive period may exacerbate feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Volunteers at a local soup kitchen are providing relief to those in need by offering food and drink as well as various activities throughout the week.

Bridport Community Kitchen is a registered charity and has been running for four years.

The team supports around 30 to 40 people across the three days a week the charity opens, offering healthy hot meals and companionship to struggling members of the public.

One man who has been helped by the charity has been living in a camper van with a friend for 18 months. 

He said he's extremely grateful to the church for supporting him.

“It’s great, there’s a good sense of community around here. People are really friendly. It’s helped us out to no end, I don’t know where we’d be without it really.

“Bridport on a whole is so helpful to vulnerable people, particularly homeless people. It’s a really friendly place. The support network is definitely there, if you want to ask for some help or something like that. We’ve had no end of help really.”

Bridport Community Kitchen is based at the Beacon Church, just off Priory Lane, which is part of the Newfrontiers family of churches, which refurbishes church buildings worldwide.

Its leader Simon Batorski helped refurbish the church six years ago and felt a strong calling from God to use the space as a supportive hub for locals.

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He says he hopes to tackle the ongoing issue of homelessness, which has become rife in Bridport.

“When you see people who are young and homeless and see what it’s doing to them, it literally breaks your heart.

“The homeless issue to us as a kitchen, as a church and as a body of people is massive, really, really massive. Our heart is for there to be some sort of provision in Bridport to support homeless people in getting from A to B.”

Bridport Community Kitchen was set up at the church four years ago.

Mr Batorski said: “In 2019, I really felt God saying to me, remember what the building was going to be used for. I immediately rang up the old church leader and within three months we started the kitchen.”

The kitchen is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, welcoming people from all backgrounds into an inclusive safe space.

This is definitely a sanctuary for a lot of people," Mr Batorski said.

"We’re open to all and we’re constantly getting really positive feedback as people feel comfortable here, they don’t feel judged which is really important.

“We don’t hide our Christianity but at the same time we don’t force it on people. We’ve always described ourselves as being the gospel in action. And it’s important to just to do what we feel we’ve been called to do, there’s no strings attached.”

Thursdays are arts and crafts days where, in addition to the hot food and drink available, there are also activities for locals to enjoy positive social interaction.

It was during these sessions when the idea for a creative fundraiser came to fruition. Since September, knitters around the town have been meeting most Thursdays with one end goal in mind – to create the largest scarf in Bridport.

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Bridport Mayor, Dave Bolwell, has worked closely with the kitchen this year as it was chosen as one of the recipients of the mayoral fundraising for 2023-2024.

After brainstorming with Mr Batorski, they decided it would be a great idea to bring the community together to work on a creative project while also raising awareness for the charity.

They decided to ask the community to knit squares to turn into Bridport's longest ever scarf. 

Councillor Bolwell said: “Last year I had become concerned about the rising number of people struggling locally. It was brought to my attention that the community kitchen was trying to expand to help with the aftermath of lockdown, rising prices, mental health issues and those who needed help that wasn’t available elsewhere.

"My wife, Bridget, joined in with visiting the kitchen and soon became involved with a group of ladies who were knitting squares, an activity that had started as a “Knit and Natter” group.

“I wondered how they were planning to use the squares then I remembered a fundraising effort started in Bradford on Avon for the local hospice where the local knitting groups knitted squares to make a scarf that stretched over two miles. I suggested that we could try a similar fundraising event in Bridport.”

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Mr Batorski added: “The aim of the project is to raise awareness amongst the local community of the kitchen as well as raising funds for the kitchen, which is run on public donations.

“The distance between the kitchen and town hall is 380m. The scarf is just over 100m long at the minute. The deadline is the end of April 2024. After the event the scarf will be made into smaller scarves, and pet blankets for the RSPCA, so no yarn will go to waste.

“Squares can be sponsored at our just giving page, at the kitchen and Bridport tourist information office. We are also planning a coffee morning at the kitchen for January 18 to raise more funds.”

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On top of the hot meals and social activities, the church also offers hot showers, clothes washing facilities and also signposts people to further support.

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Bridport Beacon Church has ambitions to expand its services to open more days a week and is calling for more financial support to continue its work.

The kitchen recently received a funding boost from the Co-op of £2,442 which covered costs for the recent refurbishment of its garden area.

It includes 30 square metres of patio which Mr Batorski said would make a great outdoor space for the summer and winter.

He hopes that more funding will help the charity achieve its long-term goal of becoming self-sustainable.

“For us what’s important, in the long term to keep us up and running is sustainable funding.

"What we would like is if people want to support the kitchen, a regular monthly donation – it could be £5, it could be £10 – would go a long way to helping us be sustainable going forward.”

More information on the church's community kitchen can be found on their website:

You can donate to the charity by visiting their JustGiving page: