Hotel owner providing free lunches for those in need

The Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, has launched a free lunch project to support the lonely, elderly and vulnerable

The Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford has launched a free lunch project to support the lonely, elderly and vulnerable - Credit: Gez Chetal

A hotel owner has opened his doors to help support the local community by offering free meals to those in need.

Gez Chetal, owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, has launched a free lunch project to support the lonely, elderly and vulnerable in the hopes of creating a space for them to socialise.

The owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, Gez Chetal. Photograph Simon Parker

The owner of the Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, Gez Chetal. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

The scheme, which will be run through Mr Chetal's company Prismstart, started on Friday, September 17 and will run every Friday from 12pm to 2pm until the end of November.

He said 16 people were supported at the launch, which included people from the local Salvation Army, pupils at The Damara School and two women who had not been out for more than a year.

Mr Chetal said: "What a great day it was. 

The Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, has launched a free lunch project to support the lonely, elderly and vulnerable.

The Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford has launched a free lunch project to support those in need. - Credit: Gez Chetal


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"Everyone enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and talked to my staff in length, including my wife Rosy. 

"We already have people booking in for next week."

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He said the aim of the project was to help build connections, bring people together in a "safe and secure way", and make people aware of what services are available to reduce loneliness.

People from the local Salvation Army and pupils at The Damara School were at the first lunch.

People from the local Salvation Army and pupils at The Damara School were at the first lunch. - Credit: Gez Chetal

Mr Chetal added: "It just gets those people out into the community, where they would otherwise sit at home and maybe not be able to afford to go out and have a lunch.

"There's very much a need in the community since the pandemic, we need to get people together. People have lost their jobs.

"This is for people struggling, who want to be with people. All they have to do is give the hotel a call, and I will book them in.

The Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, has launched a free lunch project to support the lonely, elderly and vulnerable.

The Thomas Paine Hotel in Thetford, has launched a free lunch project to support the lonely, elderly and vulnerable. - Credit: Gez Chetal

"We'll sit down and have a coffee with them to talk to these people every week, to make them feel part of something."

The hotel owner said his business managed to survive during the pandemic because he offered his rooms out to the homeless.

Mr Chetal said: "We know that groups within various communities will have different needs and will need different levels of support.

"We want to hear directly from organisations about who in their community needs additional assistance."

People can contact the hotel directly for more information.

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