One of London’s longest-standing Indian restaurants is hosting an exhibition celebrating volunteers who helped deliver more than 75,000 meals to rough sleepers across the capital during the pandemic.
Punjab, which has sat at the top of Covent Garden’s Neal Street since 1951, is displaying photographic portraits of volunteers who worked with non profit Under One Sky, taking meals out to the homeless each day.
Photographer StefanHanegraaf’s pictures of the volunteers, who are known as Skywalkers – and for whom top bar manager Anna Sebastian launched a cocktail kit in support of – went on display this week, and will be up until August 15. Hanegraaf himself became a Skywalker when he began volunteering with the group in the first lockdown.
The family-run Punjab, which is thought to be the country’s oldest Northern Indian restaurant, began working with Under One Sky in March of last year, offering the charity a base to operate out of, as well as kitchen resources and space. As well as the 75,000 meals the restaurant helped serve, it also provided an additional 175,000 other meals to a number of charities, community organisations and food banks.
Owner Amrit Maan, whose great-grandfather first opened the restaurant, said of the partnership: “At the start of the pandemic I was determined not to close the kitchens, and put the resources I had to be of service to the community in as significant a way as possible.
“Teaming up with Under One Sky meant that my core volunteer team and I were able to roll up our sleeves and do what we do best – deliver delicious food with love and care and deliver hospitality in a new way, providing a safe base for the Under One Sky volunteer community.
“These Skywalkers have become part of the Punjab family and I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate them than showcasing them right here on our restaurant walls.”
Thanking Maan, Under One Sky founder Mikkel Juel Iversen said: “If it weren’t for Amrit and his team at Punjab, we would have not have been able to have delivered half the impact we have over the past year.
“As a small but powerful grassroots organisation, everything we achieve is through positive relationship and partnerships. The significance of this particular collaboration cannot be underplayed, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to shine a light on some of our wonderful volunteers in this way.”