Story 13

A valued partnership

In August 2004 I started looking for a charity that mirrored the way we operate at Howdens – a national presence but local delivery.

Ben tackles the washing up in the new kitchen with Howdens charity manager Bill Everett and Josh.

We also wanted to find a charity that shared our ‘old-fashioned’ values of looking out for others and creating value and opportunities for everyone within a local community.

We wanted to support not just through financial donations, but also through our knowledge and expertise in kitchens.

A colleague who had worked for Patrick Salmon, a previous trustee of Leonard Cheshire Disability, suggested the charity. The next day I rang Peter Toes, the then head of asset management, to ask him if and how we could work together.

Since then I’ve had so many special moments working with Leonard Cheshire Disability – amazingly in 2017 we’ll have fitted 100 inclusive kitchens across the country!

From the first one at DASH in Camberley back in 2005, each time we did a new service, it was a bigger deal.

One of the best things is being able to change kitchens from being clinical to making them look and feel like they’re in someone’s home. That’s so important and has been a wonderful thing to develop with Leonard Cheshire over the last 12 years.

A real milestone was the kitchen we opened at Bell’s Piece in August 2012. This one really embodied what Leonard Cheshire and our partnership is all about. We brought everyone and everything together – supporting people of all abilities through our inclusive kitchens to build confidence, learn new skills and make friends for life.

Watching people grow, produce and sell their own food was incredibly inspiring.

I really knew Howdens was making a difference in the local community, as we’d set out to do.

Amazingly in 2017 we’ll have fitted 100 inclusive kitchens across the country.