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Beating loneliness is just One Bowl away in Copenhagen

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Beating loneliness is just One Bowl away in Copenhagen
One Bowl coordinator Allwin Jebahar and volunteer Emilie Da Silva. Photo: Melanie Haynes
12:45 CEST+02:00
With many Danes suffering from loneliness and a steady flow of new people coming to the city from outside Denmark, finding ways to meet people can be a challenge.
A volunteer-run community restaurant in Nørrebro is trying to help. 
 
At least 50 people turn up to One Bowl every Wednesday to eat together. There, you can eat as much as you wish and are only asked to pay whatever you can.
 
The aim is to bring people together for a delicious hot meal regardless of their situation. The food is served from a counter but enjoyed at long tables, where strangers can eat and talk together. There are a large number of regulars who attend each week to willingly chat with new people. 
 
One Bowl bills itself as a 'pay as you feel' community restaurant. Photo: Melanie Haynes
One Bowl bills itself as a 'pay as you feel' community restaurant. Photo: Melanie Haynes
 
I went along one Wednesday to meet the organizers of One Bowl and to find out more about why people come here. Emilie Da Silva has been volunteering at One Bowl since it started in 2014 and after a long day at work she looks forward to an evening at the restaurant. 
 
“I am excited to come along here to help out and to see people coming, their smiles as they enjoy good food and company without having to spend a lot of money,” she said. 
 
“We see a lot of the same people each week but also plenty of new faces. It is a laid-back place to hang out and there are people from all cultures, ages and background here and they all want to meet new people and eat great food together,” she added. 
 
Allwin Jebahar from southern India is the project co-ordinator behind One Bowl. He took inspiration from other community restaurants in other parts of Europe but found that back in 2014 when he launched the concept, it wasn't common in Denmark to regularly bring strangers together to eat food and socialize. He missed this kind of cultural exchange and decided to start One Bowl.
 
“I would love to open more than one night a week and I think there would be the demand for it but at the moment we would need a lot more regular volunteers to make this happen,” he said. “I am also looking a ways to fund One Bowl so we can look at having our own dedicated space.”
 
It was interesting to see the mix of guests at One Bowl enjoying the vegan meal. 
 
Henrik, 64, told me that he comes regularly to eat here.
 
“People are often on autopilot in their own cultures but it is enriching to meet people outside that context,” he said. 
 
Other guests said that they come to One Bowl to beat loneliness and meet new people, while many others said that they simply wanted to enjoy a delicious freshly-cooked meal on their limited budget. 
 
One Bowl is open every Wednesday from 6pm to 9pm. More information, including how to volunteer, is available on the community restaurant's website
 
Volunteers serve up the restaurant's tasty meals. Photo: Melanie Haynes
Volunteers serve up the restaurant's tasty meals. Photo: Melanie Haynes

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