Allicia Pearce and her young volunteers have setup a new soup kitchen in a deprived part of Newton, Birmingham. The project feeds growing numbers of people in the community who are experiencing social and economic challenges. Allicia took a break from her schedule to talk to Eva Nyandoro about the soup kitchen.
“We cook and serve a free hot meal with a dessert and hot drink to people in need every Thursday from 5-7pm at Newtown Community Centre. We also take food to the elderly and housebound. The food ranges from vegetable pasta bakes to chicken and rice with vegetables. We don’t just serve homeless people in need but also people who find they are not earning enough money to cover the bills.
“We’re a Non-Profit Project. We are definitely not getting paid or making a profit. We’re not government funded; it’s out of our own pockets and the generosity of the community. We spend around 30 pounds a week on supplies.”
Feed the People was established in October 2013 after one of Allicia’s students became homeless. Allicia teaches English to adults who are dealing with social and economic difficulties in their lives.
“I have always been drawn to helping people and making sure everyone is alright. I often pack lunches for my learners. On one particular afternoon, one of my students came to me distressed after being told that the hostel where he was staying was closing down in three days and he had to move out. I called various neighbourhood offices and hostels on his behalf in the capacity of his teacher. To cut a long story short, we managed to find accommodation but he was still homeless for a couple of weeks before he moved in. I went to my Grandma’s house that evening where she had provided a lovely dinner of Turkey, Lamb and Chicken. I couldn’t eat. I felt so bad for people who sleep rough and cannot afford to eat.
“I called Newtown Community Centre the next day and told the manager exactly what I’ve just told you…straight from my heart. He asked me to meet with him in person on the same day…I did this and he provided us all the facilities at Newtown Community Centre including the kitchen and hall free of charge for us to use every Thursday.”
Feed the People is made up of a core of six volunteers and family who donate their time and money to the project.
She said: “The people we provide food to every Thursday can’t thank us enough. We’re not in this for fame or to get our name out there. There is a real need and we want to help meet people’s needs.”
Allicia talked about the challenges the group faces, such as ensuring they had enough volunteers to serve food each Thursday. “As all of us either work or study, getting people to come down to volunteer or drop the food off at peoples houses can be a juggling act. But we’re all committed to helping people in need.”
Although Feed the People was only established last year, it has already inspired a movement of people to setup food kitchens in Bristol, London and Redditch under the Feed the People banner.
If you would like to find out more contact Feed the People by visiting their facebook page click here.