As part of Debbie's work cooking 5 days a week at a local school, her and her friends also run holiday food and fun clubs every Tuesday. These clubs offer a days play and a free hot meals for local families.
"Working with local charities, the District Council and with food donations from Waitrose and Muller Dairies, we are able to provide a days activities for both children and parents. All of us volunteer to come in and cook the meals, give away any food surplus and clear up." Debbie explained
It is important to build the community at the Top of Town, as two new building and regeneration project have brought new families to the area
Debbie runs a Community Interest Company making three course meals for a school in Stroud. For this she uses food surplus from Waitrose
Debbie said "it is important to make the distinction between food waste and food surplus, the former is what you would throw away or compost so veggie peeling etc. The latter is good food which cant be sold, perhaps because the label has come off, there is too much of it , the package has been split or the best before date exceeded"
This enables the children to a much wider variety that would normally be experienced at school lunch, fresh mango and pineapple, quails eggs, asparagus and poached salmon are just some of the foods children get to experience on starter platters.
For other food Debbie buys eggs and potatoes from Stancombe Farm Shop, Lamb from Hailey Farm and meat from Taylors, the butchers in Minchinhampton.
This project has been filmed 3 times for the BBC, and been visited by several local, national and European politicians including Natalie Bennett of the Green Party and Emma MacClarkin an MEP and Stroud resident. Neil Carmichael our local MP has visited in his capacity as the Chair of the Education Select Committee.
Debbie continued " despite these high profile visitors, the most important thing is that children are getting a really good lunch, experiencing new food sensations and learning how to cook"
Debbie was invited by Middle of the Hill resident Sue and Janet to re-open their Community Rooms. The rooms has been closed for some time for extensive refurbishment to make disabled access easier. The work was funded by the Community Development Team at Stroud District Council, and as the previous Cabinet Member for Housing and fellow volunteers on the Friends of Severn View, Debbie was delighted to cut the ribbon. She was joined by John Jeffries another previous Cabinet Member for Housing who had originally opened the rooms over 10 years ago
Debbie said " Sue and Janet have worked so hard to get this work done, and do a fabulous job as the Middle of the Hill Residents Association"
After cutting the ribbon Debbie and John then cut a celebratory cake made by master cake maker Janet
Debbie works at the Top of Town providing school meals cooked from scratch, but sometime she does get a day off. Here she is at the Top of Town's annual Summer Fair
Debbie has three schools in her ward, Bussage Primary, Chalford Hill Primary and Christchurch. "One of the best thinks about the summer is visiting the schools at their summer fetes and I do try to get along to them if I can. its a great way of finding more about what is happening in the community as well as contributing to the school with purchases from the stalls" said Debbie
This year Debbie brought Dorcas Binns along, a fellow District Councillor and a County Councillor to introduce her to the delights of the Bussage fete and football competition
Debbie sits on Housing Committee and is the Conservative spokesman on housing, so she is always happy to try and help tenants and residents resolve their problems. Her involvement with the Beards Lane railway bridge in Stroud began when the bridge was first being built and residents were having to suffer inordinate noise and nuisance. Despite that work now being over, there is still nuisance, with rats in bins and the whole area being overgrown with brambles, nettles and bindweed, that is not only a danger to pedestrians, but are infiltrating peoples gardens. Pam Blanche has asked Debbie to see what she can do about it
Debbie has contacted both Network Rail and Great Western Railway to get them to take action, on an area belonging to the railway and is an absolute mess for residents and pedestrians alike
Another example of how Debbie is involved with the Frithwood Youth Club, is supplying them with food surplus.
"One young chap is gluten intolerant" said Debbie "and I sometimes get gluten free bread products in my food surplus that I have no need for, so I quite often take them over to the Club, letting this member, enjoy the same foods as his friends without the consequences"
At Halloween Debbie took over surplus pumpkins to carve and cakes for the party that was being held
As well as Debbie helping out at the Communiy Café in Chalford which raises money for the Frithwood Youth Club, she also takes a direct approach. the inside of the Club had been redecorated but the outside was looking a bit jaded and neglected, so when the local Neighbourhood Warden wanted a community project the building exteriors seemed the perfect choice.
Together with Mears, the housing contractor who provided staff ad materials, local young people, Laura Hale, the Youth Worker and the Neighbourhood Warden Team, Debbie and Dorcas Binns a fellow Councillor joined forces to repaint the outside of the Youth Club.
Debbie said " I did do some painiting but my duties were in the food Department, using food surplus from my company and thanks to a grant from Waitrose I was able to keep spirits up and brushes going with bacon butties for breakfast and hot dogs for lunch"
Debbie supports the Community Cafe which runs each Wednesday at the Frithwood Youth Club. As part of her work as Director of the Severn View Food Project, she works with Foodbank and the Trussell Trust. Foodbank are keen to provide #Morethanfood, which is about looking at activities around food, including debt counselling and working with groups that help others. Foodbank often get large packages of tea bags and coffee which they cant distribute in food bags, so when Debbie told them about the Community Café and how it raises funds for the local youth club they were keen to help. Debbie dropped off the supplies to Carol Lambert who organises the Café at half term