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Friday, May 20, 2022

Food charity offers takeaways for desperate poor who can’t afford energy to cook


Exclusive:

People’s Kitchen volunteers told how the number of meals served each day had doubled from 150 to almost 300 after lockdown. Many people now rely on the charity to feed their families

A large queue outside People's Kitchen before it opens its doors
A large queue outside People’s Kitchen before it opens its doors

An inner city food charity has started to do a takeaway service for the needy due to an alarming rise in demand.

Huge queues are lining up every day outside the People’s Kitchen, Newcastle, in scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Food banks and charities across the UK have warned of rocketing demand.

But there has been a fall in donations as millions struggle with the cost of living crisis.

Desperate dads turn up in suits after work to ask for food parcels.

Our stark image of the hungry comes after Tory MP Lee Anderson said there was no ‘massive use for’ food banks in this country – and suggested people should learn to cook.







Volunteer Tim Cantle-Jones, 61, from Newcastle
(

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

People’s Kitchen volunteers told how the number of meals served each day had doubled from 150 to almost 300 after lockdown.

When the Mirror visited there were around 70 queueing up outside for mince and dumplings, served with a hot drink and dessert.

The impact of the pandemic plus the huge increase in energy costs sees many poor families relying on takeaway meals from the kitchen.

Volunteer Andy Cassidy, 56, of Gateshead, who works for nothing like everyone in the 200-strong team, said: “We had a worker in a Morrison’s uniform coming in after a shift.

“We are seeing people on low income who cannot afford to live.”

Joe Tudor, 42, who lives alone on Tyneside, started to make regular visits following the deaths of both his parents as he struggled on benefits.

“I am looking for work,” he said. “But I get a lot of support here with food and clothing.”







Volunteer Andy Cassidy, 56
(

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Newcastle University engineering Professor Colin Herron, 65, of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, was awarded a CBE for his work in renewable energy.

He has been a volunteer for 12 years, and has witnessed at first hand the huge rise in demand.

He said: “During the lockdown, there was no one on the streets. The council put everyone in accommodation, but the restaurants and hotels were closed.

“We set up a production line, we were taking out food every day, we did more than 1,000 deliveries to houses. I kept a note of the addresses.

“We worked out that we could do a takeaway from here, but we had to tell them to leave straight away, because they came to see other people.

“We went through two years of turning this from a restaurant, to a home delivery, to a takeaway, and making sure that we were feeding people.”







Professor Colin Herron, 65, has been a volunteer for 12 years
(

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

On Tory MP Anderson suggesting cookery lessons for the needy, Colin added: “I know a man in his late 70s who only uses a microwave and he has worked out that it costs 5p to heat food for 10 mins. People are down to this level.”

John McCorry, chief executive of the Newcastle West End Food Bank featured in the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’, told how hard-pressed families – including 14,500 children – were helped with food parcels by their service last year.

He said: “It is increasingly difficult to deny that people are finding their income squeezed by more and more demands.

“The thing about the Government helping with MoT charges – most of the people we help cannot afford a car.

“There are more people at risk being pushed into the poverty bracket than ever before. Lee Anderson’s comments do not resonate with us.







People queue to receive their meal at the People’s Kitchen in Newcastle
(

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

“They are so far from the reality that our clients face. You need to walk a mile in people’s shoes to understand these challenges.

“He does not seem to have an understanding of what is happening to people on so many levels.

“These comments are so out of touch with reality. Changes in the Covid support and loss of the £20 benefit uplift have hit hard.

“You don’t have a choice about payments if you are on a prepaid meter, as the poorest are.”

Our Cost of Living team of experts are here to help YOU through a very difficult year.

They’ll be bringing you the latest money news stories and also providing specialist advice.

Whether it’s rocketing energy bills, the cost of the weekly shop or increased taxes, our team will be with you all the way.

Every Thursday at 1pm they will take part in a Facebook Live event to answer your questions and offer their advice. Visit facebook.com/dailymirror/live to watch. You can read more about our team of experts here.

If you have a question – or want to share your story – please get in touch by emailing webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Revd Dean Roberts, who runs South Wales-based charity The Parish Trust, has seen queues “down the street” – including office workers in suits asking for help.

Some are brought to tears as they struggle to make ends meet. He has also seen a huge increase in people requesting food parcels in his community for the first time.

He said. “We’re starting to see more and more people from a wider cross section of society coming to ask for help.”

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