Colombo Social is more than just a restaurant serving traditional Sri Lankan flavours with a modern Aussie twist.
It’s also a social enterprise, dedicated to employing and assisting newly-arrived refugees and asylum seekers to support their transition to life in Australia.
For co-founder Shaun Christie-David, business and helping others have always gone hand-in-hand.
“I was raised to seek opportunities to help others. I’ve always felt a moral and ethical responsibility to do so,” Shaun shared.
Like many restaurants, Colombo Social was forced to close its doors to diners during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in NSW. However, the kitchen remained open.
Shaun and his business partner Peter had a phone call with their charity partner about the food insecurity resulting from the pandemic, and just two days later, they were supplying meals to the community.
Their ‘Plate It Forward’ initiative was actually established last year as a way to donate meals to asylum seekers in need.
But when the pandemic hit, Shaun and his team were quick to adapt the program to support those who were most negatively impacted – particularly the homeless, and those at high risk of becoming homeless.
In the past three months, Colombo Social has donated over 23,000 meals to vulnerable communities around Sydney. These include the Elderly Aboriginal community in Redfern and social housing residents in Camperdown.
While delivering delicious meals to communities in need is the main ‘Plate It Forward’ focus, providing emotional support is just as important to Shaun.
Colombo Social makes sure to ask meal recipients if they are doing okay, and have also invited people over for community dinners.
In a time where many people are experiencing the negative effects of isolation, Colombo Social has become a beacon of hope and positivity for the community.