Karen's KaZBah outdoor free food stall opens in Fulwood

When Karen Roberts looked for a new direction she never expected to end up setting up a free food stall outside her home - but that's what's happened this week.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 5:52 pm

A kind Fulwood resident has set up a free food stall outside her home as part of a Blackburn based project.

Karen Roberts has been setting up the stall on Stour Lodge, off Conway Drive ,this week.

It is filled with food products which are nearing their sell by dates donated by local supermarkets.

Karen's KaZBah is part of Project Free Food

Karen, 48, explained that the stall, which she has named KaZbah ​ is a way to help anyone struggling for food during the pandemic and it is also helping her find a new direction.

If anyone wishes to make a donation proceeds are going to the YAP (Youth Awareness Project) in Blackburn with Darwen for which Karen has become a volunteer during lockdown.​

Last year Karen had a change of career after 30 years working in the dental service in jobs ranging from dental nurse to receptionist and patient care coordinator.

She had also worked part time in hospitality for many years, but had started a new role fundraising for two cancer charities just as the pandemic struck.

Karen says hula hooping has been helping her keep warm while she looks after her KaZBah stand

She said: "Me and my partner work full time for a charity. We've not been able to work over the last 12 months."

Karen is now due to restart her job in four weeks time, but in the meantime had been looking to extend her skills and explore potential future work roles with the help of the locally based Action For Jobs which arranged the link up with YAP.

YAP, which runs a free surplus food outdoor counter for those in need in Blackburn, has advised and helped her. Karen advertises the opening hours of the stall, on local Facebook pages such as We Are Fulwood and We Are Broughton and is seeing this as a trial run to see what demand there is and whether a stall should be set up more permanently in the Preston area. She said she has named the stall KaZBah as a play on words as Kaz is a nickname for Karen and kasbah is an Arabic word meaning the central part of a town or city.

She said it has also proved a catalyst to get to know neighbours. She said: "It's really brought the community together."

She has been helped by a neighbour and said she had also been doing exercise outdoors to keep warm while manning the stall. She said: "I'm hula hooping and skipping while I'm doing it - it's been cold the last few days."

Any left over food is being donated to a local pastor who takes it to a Foodbank. for the homeless.

Mohammed Kathrada, treasurer and volunteer project lead for Blackburn with Darwen Youth Awareness Project said: "Karen stated she wanted to help support her community during the Covid-19 lockdown."