Pret A Manger – Ready to help the homeless

We asked Pret A Manger to explain some of the things they do to help the homeless and hungry

Why the name Pret A Manger and what does it mean?
Pret A Manger means Ready to Eat in French. Pret operates a bit like a restaurant. We build a kitchen in (or very near) every shop where Pret Chef’s freshly prepare our sandwiches, salads and wraps using quality ingredients

When did you open your first coffee house?
The first Pret store was opened in 1986 in Victoria by college friends and cofounders Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham. Pret has been growing ever since and we now have over 500 stores worldwide.

Where can I find a Pret?
We have Pret stores all over London and in many regional cities and towns across the UK as well as in the USA, Hong Kong, France and many more countries. You can use this search tool to find a Pret near you –

What are your key values?
Pret has four core values:
– Happy teams & happy customers
– Amazing standards everyday
– Never standing still
– Doing the right thing

The work of the Pret Foundation in helping to address homelessness and poverty is a huge part of the culture and history at Pret. The Pret Foundation exemplifies the ‘doing the right thing’ value which is at the core of Pret A Manger.

What does Pret do to help homeless people?
In 1995 the Pret Foundation was set up and the foundation has grown with Pret ever since. The Pret Foundation has the goal of helping to alleviate poverty and homelessness in all markets in which Pret operates. In the UK specifically we have 3 key initiatives: the Food Donations Programme, a Financial Grants Programme and an Employment Programme.

Our Food Donations Programme ensures that our surplus food is redistributed to those in need. We partner with local charities that can collect or receive our surplus food donations and then redistribute this food to homeless service users and those struggling with food poverty.

Our Financial Grants Programme offers small grants to registered, grassroots charities who on the frontline addressing homelessness in a number of innovative and effective ways. This year we are supporting around 70 charities across the UK.

Our Rising Stars Programme offers homeless and ex-offenders real jobs and a real chance to shine, in a 3 month employment programme the Rising Stars get a paid job at Pret, prepaid travel cards, a huge amount of support, counselling sessions and a number of workshops. Since the launch of the initiative in 2008 nearly 500 Rising Stars have completed the programme.

How can a homeless project get in touch with you if they wanted receive some of your food?
Any charities interested in receiving surplus food donations can get in touch with us at

The Felix Project Interview for Next Meal

Giving people access to services and education they desperately need makes our cities better environments for everyone, which is why we support the Next Meal good food campaign.

Interview with Tash Clementis, Central London Co-ordinator, The Felix Project

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Tash. We know from personal experience about The Felix Project and the amazing work you do, so we’re sure that our followers will be interested to hear more.

What does The Felix Project do?

The Felix Project rescues high-quality nutritious food for people in London who struggle to afford good food. This is food from suppliers, including supermarkets, wholesalers, farms, restaurants and delis that would otherwise go to waste. It’s delivered to charities that cook meals and prepare food parcels and to primary schools to distribute to children and their families.

How much food do you distribute?

This year we will deliver 2,000 tonnes of food to more than 280 London charities and primary schools. This is enough food to make almost five million meals.

How does the operation work?

Volunteers collect food from suppliers in vans, sort it and then deliver it to charities and schools. We have depots in North and West London and do our best to keep local food local, which is greener and builds a sense of community with suppliers, charities and volunteers. 

Our central London operation uses 100% green energy. Deliveries from suppliers go direct to charities in electric vans and Green Scheme volunteers do walking and cycling collections and deliveries. 

Is this a model that can work in other cities around the world?

Absolutely! There’s no shortage of food in cities, but there’s a lot of wastage. Retailers and producers are happy to give us their surplus food for free and our logistics are easily replicable, which offers a way to remodel food supply and help homeless people and others in London who struggle to afford good food. Sharing food brings a sense of happiness.

It must be costly to run this operation in an expensive city like London?

We keep running costs low thanks to suppliers who donate their surplus food for free, just two depots to minimise overheads and a small staff. We are also extremely lucky to have made some fantastic friends with companies who provide equipment, tech solutions, services and logistical support for free or at extremely low rates. 

At the heart of this success is the goodwill and generosity of our volunteers, without whom we would have to pay a workforce to provide the service. Ultimately, with the kindness of just a few organisations and some wonderful willing volunteers we have built a low cost, sustainable, scalable, environmentally friendly, unique service in the very heart of London. 

Why do you like the Next Meal ‘good food’ campaign?

Next Meal helps people find amazing food in a really simple way, and the good food campaign is about healthy food for a balanced diet. Giving people access to services and education they desperately need makes our cities better environments for everyone, which is why we support the Next Meal good food campaign.

How can people support The Felix Project?

We are always delighted to welcome new supporters who help reduce food waste and ensure that good food reaches people who really need it. Please visit to make a donation or sign up as a volunteer. We’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Tash, and keep up the amazing work!

Meet a hero: Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight, Coordinator of the Plymouth Soup Run
Hilary Knight
Coordinator of the Plymouth Soup Run

Tell us about Plymouth Soup Run
Plymouth soup run is a community and faith driven service providing free food and hot drinks to homeless, hungry and vulnerable people 365 days a year.

How long have you run the soup run?
Over 10 years

What are the times and how often is it open?
Seven nights a week! Usually 9:15pm to 10:15pm

What do you serve?
Hot soup , sandwiches, fresh fruit and a treat!

How many do you feed?
Up to 90 folk

How does affect you?
The Police and community services have really seen it as an opportunity to engage with street homeless people and direct them to the homeless centres to receive help and support.

You can find Plymouth Soup Run on Facebook.

You can read more on helping the homeless in Plymouth here.

The Big Interview

Martin Stone, Next Meal founder

Next Meal founder Martin Stone with Actress Naomie Harris
Martin Stone with actress Naomie Harris

What is Next Meal?

Launched in October 2017, is a website primarily designed for smartphones using GPS technology to link homeless people to food and support 24/7, across the UK and in some European cities. It reduces street homelessness by encouraging people to give Next Meal cards instead of money, helping to reduce begging.

Why was Next Meal created?

I voluntarily run a soup kitchen in Muswell Hill in north London, open five evenings a week. However, many of the guests we served asked us for information about other food centres in the area, their opening times and services. There wasn’t one central resource or an easy way to find this out, which is why we created

How does Next Meal work?

We have 370 centres featured on the site – soup kitchens, day centres, night shelters with day service facilities, etc. and new centres are joining all the time.

Since our launch, we have had over 150,000 pageviews and Next Meal has been featured on BBC news, in The Big Issue and the Financial Times, as well as many local press and other media. Awareness is increasing all the time.

How can centres get involved?

By sharing ideas and best practices across centres we want to provide practical ideas and support to all those helping to fight homelessness. Our free membership scheme is open to all centres across regions and countries. To become a member click here