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Swedish restaurant and charity to deliver 5,000 meals this Christmas

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Grekiska staff preparing Christmas Eve dinners | Photo: Grekiska
Grekiska's CEO, Zeki Yalcin with volunteers at his restaurant in Södertälje preparing meals to distribute on Christmas Eve

With the Christmas season upon us, families around the globe are preparing to gather around food-laden tables and warm homes to celebrate the year’s end, connect with loved ones, and take time to reflect and relax before the start of a new year.

But this year millions across the world, including in Sweden, will spend Christmas without a roof over their heads, in refugee camps, under freezing tents, or on the sidewalks of streets. And many will remain hungry.

This Christmas, two Sweden-based entities are making sure the homeless, the asylum seekers, the refugees, pensioners, and families with children across Sweden, are not forgotten–and are well fed and taken care of.  

The Stockholm-based Greek restaurant chain, Grekiska Grill & Bar has joined forces with the award-winning international non-profit advocacy and humanitarian aid organization, A Demand for Action (ADFA) which will put its expertise in organizing large distributions to ensure over 6,000 meals across Sweden will reach and be served to those in need. 

The family-owned restaurant, Grekiska, was opened in Södertälje (Sweden) in 1995 by Musa and Zeki Yalcin–Assyrian/Syriac immigrants from Turabdin (Turkey).  By 2002, their passion for sharing with their new countrymen, indoor grilled dishes, featuring a unique blend of Greek delicacies infused with their signature Mesopotamian herbs and spices, evolved into a successful franchise chain. With over 30 restaurants today, Grekiska is Sweden’s largest nationwide Greek restaurant chain.

“I cannot think of anything more beautiful and giving than helping those in need during Christmas. We are thrilled that our food and drink suppliers and franchisers also are on board, and we are of course grateful to ADFA for their collaboration to help make this happen,” Grekiska’s CEO, Zeki Yalcin says he’s excited about the “magic” of it all. “It’s a dream come true for our family and our extended family in our restaurant chain. Everyone is willing to work on their day off–on Christmas Eve–and help out.”

This Christmas Eve, the chain’s five restaurants in Stockholm will prepare and distribute 1,000 meals during the Christmas Eve celebrations at the Swedish Evangelical Mission’s St. Clara’s Church (Klara Church) in the capital city. Grekiska will also distribute an additional 5,000 meals nationwide through its chains.

“We are extremely grateful to receive 1,000 of the portions from Grekiska Grill & Bar for our Christmas celebration at St. Clara Church, catering to the homeless, asylum seekers, refugees, poor pensioners, and families with children in need,” says Father Hans Bratt Hernberg whose parish provides social services year-round. “This contribution to our Christmas celebration brings immense joy and blessing, as we say in the church. Great joy and love to all at Grekiska Grill & Bar and ADFA for providing this for the most vulnerable in Stockholm.”

ADFA’s founder, Nuri Kino, will join volunteers and Grekiska restaurant workers to distribute meals on Christmas Eve.

Two Friends Preserve the True Spirit of Christmas Giving

The idea for Christmas Eve food distribution originated when Zeki Yalcin contacted his old-time friend and fellow native of Turabdin, ADFA’s founder Nuri Kino, and asked if he was staying home in Sweden for Christmas Eve. When Kino, who is often at emergency relief sites around the world, said he was staying home this year, Zeki asked if he would volunteer at his restaurant in Södertälje to distribute meals on Christmas Eve.

“My mind started to spin. Why not have all restaurants open on Christmas Eve?” Kino says he galvanized his organization members to connect with restaurants across Sweden to have all restaurants open and serving food on Christmas Eve–when they’re usually closed. “All volunteer organizations were very happy to participate since the need has spiked in the last few years but couldn’t manage to operate on Christmas Eve at such short notice. So ADFA took the responsibility to manage the Grekiska Grill & Bar and ADFA Christmas Eve operation.”

ADFA and Grekiska will distribute the Christmas Eve meals at additional Grekiska restaurant chains in Norrköping, Enköping, and Örebro across Sweden in collaboration with food suppliers Menigo, and Pepsi MAX.

Simultaneously, ADFA’s volunteers will continue their food and relief distribution activities across various conflict zones in Syria, Lebanon, and Armenia where they remain actively involved.

Jackie Abramian is committed to amplifying the work of women peace-builders, change makers and social entrepreneurs. She is a social enterprise advisor and the founder of Global Cadence consultancy.

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Channel 4’s Writers Scheme Welcomes 20 UK Authors

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Channel 4's New Writers Scheme Welcomes 20 UK Authors
Twenty people from across the UK have joined a Channel 4 scheme designed to work with TV drama writers

Twenty people from across the UK have joined a Channel 4 scheme designed to work with TV drama writers in the West and South West of England and Wales, North of England, and Scotland – providing them with months of expert industry training, mentoring and support to develop their first pilot episode-spec script.

4Skills launched this year’s New Writers Scheme last week with an aim to nurture underrepresented writing talent, focussing on diverse, regional and authentic voices who have a flair for television drama.

Following the successful pilot in the West and South West of England in 2022, the programme has since expanded to work with participants located near Channel 4’s regional hubs: Bristol, Glasgow and Leeds. The writers will benefit from nine months of expert industry training and mentoring from scripted indies and a script editor, alongside feedback from Channel 4. 

As part of the kick-off, screenwriters from the regional hubs met at Channel 4’s Leeds office for three days of introductions, writing tips and training with NFTS trainer Hannah Robinson and heard from the experts including Nicola Shindler, Danny Brocklehurst, Helen Black and Director of Film4 & Channel 4 Drama, Ollie Madden.

“It was very exciting to meet with such a talented group of writers, who all bring an incredible depth of creativity, specificity and passion to their projects. I am truly looking forward to seeing how this year’s cohort develop their skills in the months ahead,” says Ollie Madden, Director of Film4 & Channel 4 Drama. 

The New Writers Scheme is funded and developed by 4Skills with Channel 4 Drama and supported by the BFI NETWORK (Film Hub South West and Film Hub North) alongside support from Screen Scotland. 

The initiative is one of many projects being supported by 4Skills, which provided more than 57,000 learning, training or development opportunities in 2023.

Kevin Blacoe, Channel 4’s Head of Partnerships & Skills, Nations & Regions said:

4Skills is designed to open doors for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and various regions across the UK, providing opportunities for those who typically wouldn’t have access to the behind-the-scenes world of television.

By guiding them as they advance in their careers, we are also investing in the future of television. Our goal is to ensure that every voice, both on-screen and off, is heard and valued.”

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Go North East sponsor Durham Cricket’s Visually Impaired Team

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Go North East sponsor Durham Cricket's Visually Impaired Team
Durham’s Visually Impaired Cricket Team now plays in the England and Wales Cricket Board Development League | Photo: Gavin Forster

Go North East has announced the continuation of its partnership with Durham Cricket as the front-of-shirt sponsor of their Visually Impaired team until 2025.

First founded in June 2007, Durham’s Visually Impaired Cricket Team now plays in the England and Wales Cricket Board Development League, against 11 other teams.

Visually Impaired (VI) cricket is a specially adapted version of the game that is suitable for anyone with a visual impairment – whether partially sighted or totally blind.

Ben Maxfield, Business Director, commented, “We are thrilled to be supporting the Visually Impaired Team at Durham Cricket again this year. At Go North East, we are dedicated to making our services accessible to everyone, and our buses are equipped with next-stop audio announcements to assist visually impaired passengers. This sponsorship is a natural extension of our commitment to inclusivity and supporting our community. We look forward to seeing the team’s success in the coming season.”

Tom Seymour, the Commercial Director for Durham Cricket said, “We are delighted to have Go North East, a local company connecting the region, renew their partnership and sponsorship of the Visually Impaired Team.”

He continued, “We’d like to thank them for their continued support for this programme and further showing the commitment we have here at Durham Cricket in creating an inclusive and welcoming space in the sport.”

For more information about the team, visit Visually Impaired Cricket – Durham Cricket

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Volunteers with learning difficulties plant floral displays at train stations

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Aldingbourne Trust volunteer Ben Slade
Aldingbourne Trust volunteer Ben Slade

A 15-year-old partnership between Southern Railway and a charity for adults with learning difficulties in the UK is once again delighting thousands of passengers with fresh floral displays at stations in West Sussex.

Funded by Southern, a team of volunteers from The Aldingbourne Trust near Arundel, has been out and about planting and installing colourful beds and hanging baskets that they will maintain until the autumn.

“Our volunteers get loads of feedback from passengers getting off the trains who say how fabulous the flowers look. It makes them proud of what they do and know they’re contributing to their local community.

“It’s great for their mental well-being too. Some of the volunteers used to spend a lot of their time quite isolated at home, especially after the pandemic, and this ‘Adopt A Station’ enterprise with Southern encourages our volunteers to get out and about to meet people and be more social,” says Karen Tyrrell, Visitor and Enterprise Operations Manager.

The ‘Adopt A Station’ programme also gives its volunteer skills in communication, independent travel and health and safety.

“It doesn’t matter what your ability is, there’s a value you can add to your community,” says Tracy Jarvis, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern.

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