Christmas dinners for the Community

Riverside Community Big Local were kept busy over the Christmas period in the planning and execution of our Christmas dinners for the Community!

The idea was put forward by Renae Leybourn, one of our board members, and it wasn’t long before The Fleet in Purfleet had offered to cook the 50 meals for former rough sleepers, those who are vulnerable and isolated and those who had no access to a hot meal.

But these weren’t any dinners, these are Christmas Dinners, to be delivered chilled on Christmas Eve ready to be reheated on Christmas Day. Even the bags were a gift-donated by Ghurka Kitchen in Grays and each bag included the meal with all the trimmings, a Christmas hat and a special treat-a mini Christmas Cake-made and supplied by South Essex College.

The pictures show us happy elves preparing the bags and getting ready to deliver them on Christmas Eve.

A special Thank you to all at the Fleet-Dermot, Alison and Holly.

We have hit our targets

Supporting Communities with Zoom Riverside Community has been helping communities to continue to gather and has reached three milestones this week

Over 1000 Zoom meetings

Over a quarter of a million minutes on Zoom

Over 5000 people connecting via Zoom

Applications for 2021 are now open!

Thurrock Social Entrepreneurship Programme

A seven-day programme over seven months, to help you start up

Dates 1 Mar 2021 – 18 Oct 2021

Duration 7 days


Thanks to the support of Riverside Community Big Local, there is no fee to take part in this programme. Free

Click here for more details

Our promise.

We are confident that you will enjoy this course but always welcome your feedback.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Good news – we’re still going ahead with this programme! Don’t worry, activities will happen online or by phone, not in person. We have suspended in-person activities for the time-being, in line with government guidelines. Instead, we will deliver learning online, and adapt content to suit your needs during these challenging times. (If you can’t access online learning, we’ll try to find another format that is accessible for you.) 

THURROCK SOUP 29th October 2020

Last month once again, local people across Thurrock were invited to have their business ideas turned into reality, thanks to the latest Thurrock Soup event.

Thurrock Soup events aim to help inspire social enterprise and business ideas from Thurrock residents and offer advice and support in starting a new business and in identifying funding.

Due to current restrictions, we held this event on Zoom, to ensure that it is as much fun as usual we encouraged people to wear their Halloween Costumes, pour themselves a drink of choice and get in the mood.

Usually we provide refreshments and a vote for £5, this time there was already £300 in the ‘Soup Pot’ for the winner so we were off to a flying start.

Over 25 people joined us for the evening, many of whom took us up on the challenge to wear fancy dress!

There were 5 fantastic pitches;

Richard Bonsu- wants to use Music and Media to inspire and encourage young people

Katie Sparks- wants to open a ‘0 waste’ mobile unit

Jim Graham-wants to set up a ‘Mens Shed’ in Elm Road Open Space

Tina Holland-wants to open a Community Café in Grays Town Park

Dannielle Cronin- wants to open a Community Shop in Grays

And the winner is…..Dannielle Cronin, with the great idea to set up a Community Shop in Grays which will help to reduce food waste and help people who are struggling to buy food.

As a postscript, all of those who pitched their ideas on this virtual soup have since applied for and been awarded, further funding from UnLtd in Partnership with Riverside Community Big Local, in total over £12, 000! Well done all.

This event was hosted by Riverside Community Big Local in partnership with Thurrock Council’s Economic Development team and is open to all residents, businesses and voluntary sector organisations in Thurrock.

Do you have a great idea?


It’s VIRTUALly Thurrock SOUP!

Yes its nearly that time of the year! No not Halloween-it’s Thurrock SOUP time!

Due to current restrictions, we have decided to hold a Zoom SOUP.

Everyone is invited to take part and help to vote for the next great idea!

If you have a great idea, but done know where to go next-the answer is SOUP.

Take part and tell us all your idea, whoever gets the most votes at the end will win the £250 prize plus access to further funding and lots of free business start-up support. Tell all of your family and friends to register as well, more friends=more votes.

As its on Zoom, you dont have to dress up although Halloween Costumes are welcome.

Please register free on: and we will send you the link to join.

Cooking with Grays

Whilst delivering food to many of the refuges and hostels across Grays, it has been mentioned to me a number of times that they don’t want or need food that needs to be cooked as ‘they don’t like to cook’!

Whilst delivering food to a homeless women and children’s unit recently, I started talking about food and cooking with some of the residents, who promptly asked whether I would teach them to cook some simple recipes, after about a minute’s consideration-I said Yes!

Morrisons in Grays have been donating food to me for donation on to these hostels among other beneficiaries, so I wanted to include them. I have been working closely with Tarnya Bennett-Morrisons Community Champion for Grays (see picture) and she was happy to be involved in this project, even offering to buy most of the ingredients and print off the recipes.

I also had a conversation with a former colleague-Graeme Collie Head of Commercial Catering at South Essex College (SEC) and he was also very keen to be part of this project.

Week 1 of the project was about some basic ideas and I took a small group of ladies through making a basic tomato pasta sauce, then showing them one of the uses as we turned it into a cheesy pasta bake (pictured below). We discussed alternative ingredients and uses for the pasta sauce including how you could disguise vegetables in the sauce for fussy eaters.

They have requested that I show them how to make Carrot Cake Cupcakes for Week 2. I am looking forward to it. SEC will take over from me as cookery teacher after Wk 2 and I know that they have some exciting ideas to teach everyone.

Litter Pick at Falcon Wood

A small team of Riverside Community Big Local volunteers spent Sunday morning picking litter from the piece of land along Bridge Road known as Falconwood.

Working with local residents and organisations the Big Local plans to create a Pocket Park on this previously un-cared for land.

As part of these plans the Big Local thinned out some of the dead and dangerous trees and started to level off the land. The levelling off revealed a large amount of rubbish that had been buried for many years.

In all volunteers collected 24 sacks of cans, bottles and other rubbish – as well as a number of larger items of rubbish.

Chair of the Riverside Community Big Local, Andy Blakey, said;

“Falconwood is a hidden gem and we plan to work with residents to make it a really pleasant place for people to enjoy. It time, we will look to put some appropriate seating and other amenities but – for now – the efforts of volunteers on Sunday has made to the area that bit nicer to look at and walk through.

“Thanks to Steve, Anton, Jacqueline and John for giving their time and to Thurrock Council for disposing of the rubbish collected.”