Jill's story (Weds night Soup Kitchen) - 11/05/2020
Jill from the Wednesday night Soup Kitchen tells her story to Help us Help.
“We have been running Sheffield’s Soup Kitchen on a Wednesday night with a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers for 4 years now, providing a crucial part of the support available to homeless and vulnerable people in the city. Each night during the week, a different group of volunteers organise the soup kitchen in the city centre, providing food and drinks, clothing and household supplies and more importantly signposting to other services available in Sheffield. Because the soup kitchen is held outdoors and is not part of any other service, our guests trust us implicitly to support them, and generally speaking the atmosphere is lively but respectful. Typically, we feed around 80 to 100 people every Wednesday evening, and our soup kitchen offers hot food so is always popular.
In February of this year, Help us Help began inviting us to attend meetings pulling all the services and charities in the city together so everyone was in the loop about who was doing what, where and when with our mutual client group, the majority of whom are extremely vulnerable due to health issues, mental health problems, insecure housing, rough sleeping and addiction problems.
We have always existed alongside services in the city and worked with them for many years, but coronavirus made closer working much more important. Help us Help already had the framework to bring everyone together and we were pleased to become an integral part of the city’s emergency response and contribute where we could.
Initially we organised and encouraged donations of food and cash to buy food, then distributed this to people living on the streets, but as the situation developed, we knew this had to change. My husband and I conducted the final city centre walk around as requested giving out packed lunches and emergency help leaflets.
When it was decided to open up the kitchen at Archer Project to supply ‘Meals on Wheels’ I owned up to having 30 years catering management experience and volunteered to step in and help. I opened up on the Monday and systems have nicely been slotting into place since then.
Personally, after 14 years working at home I’m now at Archer Project most days coordinating the kitchen, which is a big change, but one I am really enjoying getting stuck into! I set up the soup kitchen as I wanted to make a positive difference on peoples’ lives in the city, and that still motivates me today – Sheffield is full of volunteers who will do whatever’s needed. I’m just one of many!”