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Soup kitchen launched by Barking and Dagenham Volunteer Bureau to feed homeless

PUBLISHED: 09:09 12 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:09 12 January 2017

The launch of the soup kitchen at the Barking and Dagenham Volunteer Centre. Lynne Hopkins, volunteer Paige Wedge, Joan Brandon and Paul Perry

The launch of the soup kitchen at the Barking and Dagenham Volunteer Centre. Lynne Hopkins, volunteer Paige Wedge, Joan Brandon and Paul Perry

Archant

The borough’s first soup kitchen is set to launch later this month to feed those most in need.

The launch of the soup kitchen at the Barking and Dagenham Volunteer Centre. Paul PerryThe launch of the soup kitchen at the Barking and Dagenham Volunteer Centre. Paul Perry

The brainchild of Jon Gildersleeve of Barking and Dagenham Volunteer Bureau, the service will initially work with local businesses to feed about 30 homeless people at a monthly soup kitchen.

Their first sponsor, Rashana Shirley of Nice Nice Cafe, will make the food in Barking Rivergate Centre in Minter Road while volunteers will work with hostel staff to ensure it reaches the most needy.

Homeless hostel manager Paul Perry, 50, said they were providing the “bricks and mortar” for the project but the volunteers were the “gel” that would hold it together.

He has decided to launch the project at Boundary Road Hostel in Barking and Brocklebank Lodge in Dagenham because of the distance they cover in the borough and the higher number of single people using them.

Could you lend a hand to a souper job?

There are already more than 20 volunteers signed up to to project, but as it grows there will be an ever greater need.

Joan Brandon, CEO at the Barking and Dagenham Volunteer Centre, says she has faith that residents will lend a hand.

“I know we’ll get volunteers because people do care about the homeless,” explained the 76-year-old.

“Volunteers are great because they do it because they want to do it, they want to be there.We want this to be a big thing, not just for the winter.”

Homeless people are also getting involved in the project. “It’s the community helping the community – the volunteers who are homeless are fantastic,” Joan added.

Do you want to volunteer or know a business who could help sponsor the food? Email bardagvb@hotmail.co.uk to find out more.

“We are very concerned, not only about rough sleepers but particularly single people accessing food in a safe environment,” he explained.

“Families are less likely to have their benefits sanctioned. Single people may have a roof over the head but not be able to feed themselves.”

Though the initial service is modest – and the exact launch date as yet unspecified – Paul is hopeful that this will lead to bigger things.

“We won’t turn anyone away,” he added. “If they want, we can provide other advice for them.People can come any night and collect the food whenever they want, we can microwave it for them.”

Founder Jon, a long-term volunteer at the centre, explained: “It’s a new project which builds on what we already do, it’s to help people who are sleeping rough.

“The people who are going to benefit are the most needy.”


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