In conversation with Melissa Hemsley

For anyone who has been in a room with Melissa Hemsley, you will know she lights up a room with her energy, enthusiasm and curiosity. It’s a rare thing to be a good speaker as well as a listener. I always find nuggets of practical and enjoyable wisdom in any conversation, so we wanted to share an interview with her, where we catch up with her on how she’s been during lockdown, her home style, how she uses her QÄSA QÄSA products and also pinch her recipe from Eat Green for ‘Barazi’ (kidney bean curry) which she learnt during her visit to Kenya (click here for recipe).

Photo credit by Chris Terry for FairTrade

How has lockdown been and what have been your biggest concerns from this change of pace and lack of contact?

I’ve been ok, I'm sure like many people it has been a rollercoaster, there’s been ups and downs, you never really know which day your going to get, such is a monthly cycle for a woman anyway with everything else on top. I’ve had what feels like my full spectrum of emotions. I’m very glad I went on a grief retreat at the end of last year, it really helped me work out how to talk about feelings.

At the beginning, I was concerned about loneliness and a loss of community, but actually I feel that lots of people have pulled together. I’ve seen and experienced lots of amazing community initiatives; my whole street came together and I’ve met lots of new neighbours. I’ve got really into cooking with OLIO, which is a brilliant app that is now going global. I’ve been involved in a campaign called ‘Cook For Kids’, which started as soon as the government announced that the schools were closing and it helped support meals within neighbourhoods, to offer food for families who were feeling the pressure to supply extra meals because the kids are at home.

I was also concerned for ‘food’ friends who were looking for ways to survive and looking for new avenues when restaurants closed etc. But the way people have pulled together has been brilliant.

I’ve also been concerned about disposable face masks and gloves. I understand lots of industries need this, but when going on daily walks or getting shopping done, people are just discarding masks which is such a shame. But I’ve also seen lots of new brands emerge to fulfil what people need and create sustainable masks.

You've been a wonderful supporter of ours from the start, which of our items do you use and what do you like about them?