Nigerian chef is bringing Africa to our doorstep and is awakening our taste buds with his traditional delicacies at the Heart of Africa community café.
Every weekday Tuoyo Ayiku opens his doors in Routes to Work South, on Cambuslang Main Street, to the locals who are patiently waiting to be apportioned their weekly dose of outstanding food.
Whilst visiting Africa last year, Tuoyo was taken aback when his son who was born and raised here in Scotland asked when they would be returning home and he realised that there was a lack of African culture in his son’s life.
Working at Lindsay House during this particular time Tuoyo could see the devastating impact homelessness was having on people’s lives he wanted to pull people together through African culture.
Heart of Africa began to gain momentum in January and was awarded the Social Enterprise Impact Award at the beginning of November.
Humble Tuoyo explained, “We began the café in January and as we became busier by March VASLan suggested I set up Heart of Africa as a social enterprise.
I can’t believe the amount of people I am able introduce to my cooking.”
Tuoyo expeditiously realised that there were people within the community who may need the community café were not able to attend as they do not have money to spare and introduced Pay-What-You-Can box. This allowed the community of Cambuslang to be able to access irrespective of financial situation.
Tuoyo is dedicated to his kitchen and is truly passionate about what he does however, he is not alone in his endeavours he has help from his wife Caro and a dedicated team of 2 volunteers.
In June when Tuoyo had to make an urgent trip back to Nigeria he knew Heart of Africa was in good hands, he did however, come home to a surprise.
“When I arrived back in Scotland, Caro explained to me that she had introduced a voucher system where food banks and organisations could provide people with vouchers to come to the café.
I couldn’t believe it! The vouchers have been a huge success and 450 have been used since they were introduced. I carry my box of vouchers everywhere I go!”
Due to the colossal success of Heart of Africa when Tuoyo moved to Larkhall he sought help from Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire with his OSCR Annual Return and they were able to put him in touch with funders.
Peter, Development Officer, from VASLan said “We supported Mr Ayiku with regards to funding and development throughout his social enterprise journey.
His enthusiasm and happy nature are what makes him stand out in the work he is doing in communities throughout South Lanarkshire. We are delighted to see the Heart of Africa going from strength and strength and congratulate them on the recent award”
Tuoyo is hoping to open more community cafes throughout North and South Lanarkshire so he can help as many people as he can. Lanarkshire will be infused with African culture if Tuoyo has anything to do with it.
If you would like help with funding or development with your organisation in South Lanarkshire please call Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire on 01698 300390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org