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Ealing Soup Kitchen - Andrew

City Harvest Festival 'Kindness is Powerful' Series

Andrew McLeay – Leader at Ealing Soup Kitchen

City Harvest has delivered 18 tonnes of food = 42k meals

Preventing 65 tonnes of greenhouse gases

Retail Value: £53,750

City Harvest started delivering free food to Ealing Soup Kitchen in 2015, saving the charity money that can be spent on other services for their guests. Hot meals are served to those facing homelessness, along with a haircut, and friendly faces to offer help and a respite from social isolation. For most, this will be the only meal they eat.

Open 4 days a week, Ealing Soup Kitchen is all about people developing relationships. It’s about food, yes, but food is how we get to know people. We use food as a springboard to get to know people’s issues.

Andrew tells us, “We have about 20-80 people who come regularly – some come less often. Since COVID we have seen a lot more families with small children, also large families with 6-8 children. We have also seen a lot of people in suits turning up for food parcels who are between jobs, looking for work. There is a definite rise in ‘at-risk of homelessness’ coming to the Soup Kitchen.”

Usually when people become homeless there is a series of predictable steps, like job loss, that lead to this state. COVID is a unique situation, it affects everyone differently. Andrew explains how this has affected people at the Soup Kitchen, “There has been a rise in homelessness, and huge rise in those at-risk from homelessness. Landlords have illegally evicted tenants, knowing these people are isolated and won’t challenge them. We have had to help a lot of people who need mental health support, which can translate into being seen as having ‘anti-social’ behaviour.”

There were couple of guys who have been in hospital with COVID, Andrew explains, “A regular of ours was picked up in February and taken to hospital. He was in ICU for 2 months and has lots of health issues. He had never had addictions but was ravaged due to other health issues. Now in a hospice, he is depressed, he likes to be on the buses and seeing people. An estranged brother from Australia contacted us and they reunited which is really nice, so he has that connection back in his life.” Andrew and the volunteers make visits and check in on the guests where they can.

These things show you that we are intrinsically good – when the chips are down people come together.

One of the regular guests with addiction issues decided that he wanted to change his life. He asked to volunteer with Ealing Soup Kitchen and was shocked at the amount of work that went into running everything, regaining a real sense of focus and purpose. The change of direction led to him getting a job and even reunited with his family and kids. Andrew explains, “We helped him get set up in a new flat. He was a great help unloading the deliveries, and he really liked to plan the menus, considering nutrition and healthy eating when feeding people.”

For a lot of people life is really hard, all the time, and never lets up. The physical and emotional loads some people have to carry are astounding. Ealing Soup Kitchen try to help them keep going and lighten the load little.

We asked people what their ideal food would be if we could make them something. They chose spaghetti bolognaise, pasta bakes, lasagna and risotto - it’s filling and warming.

Obesity is an issue – people need healthy food. City Harvest is great at providing quality healthy food so we can make rice dishes, salads, chicken drumsticks. City Harvest is great at getting that food to us.

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