While most people are celebrating at Christmas, it can be a difficult period for some, particularly for homeless people due to the cold weather and lack of family and friends. The result is that charities supporting the homeless are in demand and require volunteers.
I can’t imagine spending Christmas alone. My partner, Laura, and I recently had our first baby, Thomas, so this year will be our first as a family and I cannot wait. But for many homeless people around the country, Christmas is not such an exciting event, and I for one want to do anything I can to make it just that little bit better.
For the last two years, I’ve worked with local charity The People’s Kitchen and I’m giving up my time again this year.
Spending an evening away from the busy restaurant atmosphere, I will be helping The People’s Kitchen throw its annual Street Party in December by providing a starter and a dessert, along with main meal accompaniments for Newcastle’s homeless community to enjoy.
The People’s Kitchen Street Party has been held in one form or another for 30 years and attracts many homeless people from Newcastle city centre and the surrounding area. The volunteer-based organisation feeds an estimated 120 people a day and has continuous blessing from Northumbria Police and Newcastle City council.
This will be the first year I’ll actually be at the street party, as for the last two years we have been involved prior to the event by showing the volunteer chefs how to make the most of ingredients to cook a delicious meal, and then joined them in their van serving across the streets of Newcastle. I met some amazing people who I’ll never forget, but to be honest, I hope I don’t see them again this year. Why? Because I hope they’ve managed to get the help and support they needed and are now happy in their own accommodation.
This year’s event also has live jazz music from a local band and a hog roast provided free by another kind donor as well as the meal I will be providing. To fully embrace the festivities of the street party, Father Christmas will also be making his annual appearance to hand out gifts to all.
As well as organising the street party this year, The People’s Kitchen will be providing a formal sit down Christmas Dinner held at the Alison Centre for those in need of somewhere to go during the festivities. For some homeless people, the only proper conversation they will have over Christmas is with the volunteers.
I really love supporting The People’s Kitchen and it’s something I’m proud of. For anybody thinking of volunteering, I urge you do it; it’s so rewarding.
There are many volunteering opportunities you can take part in at the People’s Kitchen, to find out more visit their website at www.peopleskitchen.co.uk
Dave is head chef and co-owner at Peace & Loaf