Next Meal Day 2021

Each year we celebrate Next Meal Saturday to raise awareness of the plight of street homelessness and how can make a difference by directing people to the nearest place for food and support

Last year we marked the day in Exeter – where the city’s cathedral was lit up with Next Meal’s logo and message.

Next Meal Saturday 2020: Exeter Cathedral

This year, in the midst of a global pandemic, we are taking Next Meal Saturday online, with a special event on zoom replacing the usual events across the country.

So much has changed over the last 12 months, but the work we all do to help the homeless, hungry and vulnerable continues. We want to take a moment to share some of the amazing initiatives that our friends across the world have put in place to overcome the unique challenges of Covid.

We’d love you to join us on Thursday, January 28 as we link up centres in the UK with New York, Sydney, Los Angeles, Paris and more to share our experiences of the last year.

If you’d like to take part, or just listen in, please email Martin Stone at and we’ll send you details.

Helping the homeless around the world

Here are just some of the wonderful examples we’ve heard about in recent months:

If you’d like to see some other initiatives, feel free to browse these two presentations:

Soup Kitchens News: January

Soup Kitchens News: December

Adapting to Change

Empty supermarket shelf

It’s been a really challenging few weeks for those working to support the hungry, the homeless and the vulnerable across the country. With the coronavirus impacting every aspect of society, soup kitchens, food banks and support centres have found themselves suddenly under-staffed and short on supplies. 

Every centre is different, and all of you have made some tough decisions to protect your visitors, volunteers and staff. Of the 391 sites on Next Meal, many of you have let us know your new situation – thank you. You are helping us to make sure our database is up-to-date and remains a valuable resource. 

We want to take a moment to thank you for everything you do – none of this is easy.

We don’t know what the coming weeks or months will bring. It’s likely we’ll need to adapt many times over. Whatever decision you’ve made for your centre – if you’re wondering how you can still help, or you’re taking this time to reflect and take stock – please keep in touch.   

With everything changing so fast, it’s tough for those managing support centres, so we thought we’d gather together some resources that might help.

Guidance for homeless services

Glasgow homeless person

Whether you’re still open or planning your next steps:

Homeless Link are running a weekly webinar with useful updates. 

Here is a useful list of resources from Healthy London for organisations caring for rough sleepers – this PDF has the main things that you need to know.

Guidance from the Government on how to protect yourself and your visitors from coronavirus.

Groundswell has produced guidance on coronavirus for people who are rough sleeping, translated into Polish and Romanian.

Groundswell poster in Polish

Some joy!

We’ve seen some incredible innovation in how people are helping the most vulnerable. Here are just a few we have seen recently:

The Angel & Crown pub in Richmond pub is serving hot food to the homeless.

Pub serving food to homeless

Charities in Glasgow are teaming up with the Council to provide meal deliveries – and microwaves! – to those in need.

Chefs in Bristol have created a food delivery service for the homeless, aiming to feed 600 people a day.  

Chef preparing takeaway

Arch Healthcare GP in Brighton has been handing out mobile phones to its 1,400 homeless patients.

We can all take heart from the widespread public compassion in action in this time of crisis.

We’re closed, what can I do?

Print and display guidance for your regular visitors outside your centre – these fact sheets from Groundswell are handy and printable.

If you’re still in contact with your visitors, make sure they register with their local council to get support. Here’s Shelter’s guidance on this.

They should also register with the Government and tell them if they need support.

Tell your visitors to check Next Meal for their nearest centre but be sure to call to see if they’re still open.

Next Meal homepage

What else can I do?

Find out what your local council is doing to support the homeless. For example, Southwark Council has a dedicated page for free food services. 

Southwark Council food access advice

Join a community page on Facebook, like this one in Chelmsford, Essex, that have emerged to share support for the vulnerable locally.

Here are some examples of good deeds you could do for your loved ones or your local community.

What should I tell my volunteers?

They could sign up to the London rota to help out at the hotels sheltering homeless people.

If they see a rough sleeper, they can contact StreetLink or inform them that they can use Next Meal to find a soup kitchen near them (adhering to social distancing) – remember to tell them to call first to make sure they’re still open.

They can find local support groups to help out here.

If they wish, they could donate to a charity supporting the homeless, like St Mungos or The Passage.

Share this general advice for volunteers during this time.

Advice for volunteers

Can we ask you a favour?

We want to make sure our listings are as accurate as possible so anyone accessing Next Meal in need of food and support knows which centres are open. If you run a centre please take a look at your listing on Next Meal, and let us know if you are closed, your new hours if you are open, or any other details that need to be updated.

Next Meal centres listing

We would also love to hear your stories. Together, we’ve got a lot of experience – if you have any tips for other centres or you want to share something you’re doing during this crisis, post it on social media with the hashtag #FindYourNextMeal.

To end on a note of hope, we found this uplifting piece on Homelessness Impact – this crisis is tough but we will learn from it and hopefully it will help to bring forward the urgency of our common drive to end homelessness.

Stay healthy, positive, and innovative.

The Next Meal Team

Woman in mask in front of poster saying These Days Will Pass

Keeping a soup kitchen open in coronavirus times

Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen has introduced a takeaway service to ensure it can continue to prove nutritious meals for the homeless during these extraordinary times. The Ham & High came along to see it in action.

Muswell Hill soup kitchen team prepares for a takeaway service.

5 Easy Ways You Can Help a Homeless Person (That Don’t Involve Giving Money)

There is a lot of debate about whether you should give money to homeless people.

Some argue it is better to give that money to an organisation committed to helping homeless people. A common argument against giving homeless people money is: ‘they’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol’.

But who’s to say what a homeless person will spend their money on? And it can be quite difficult and cold to simply turn a blind eye to those in need. 

Do you turn your music up? Keep reading your book? Look away? Or politely say no?

There are plenty of ways you can help that don’t involve giving someone money, but that can still have a positive impact.

Here are a few suggestions, but it’s up to you to do whatever you feel comfortable doing.

Here are some ways you can help:

Buy someone food

Is there someone begging outside a supermarket? Buy them a sandwich or a non alcoholic drink instead of giving them money. 

Carry some small items of food with you

If you regularly pass someone begging for money, you could buy some food in advance and give it to them when you see them. Fruit and cereal bars are just a couple of ideas.

Give them a Next Meal card

The whole purpose of Next Meal is to help homeless people in a huge way, that can improve their lives much more than a few coins ever could.
If you don’t feel comfortable just giving them a card, you could give them a card along with some food, or some money, if you wish.

Donate to a homeless charity

Put your spare change aside and once you have hit a certain goal, donate that to a homeless charity of your choice. Or simply sign up for monthly payments, or make a one off payment.


There are thousands of organisations across the UK that can use volunteers; soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and more. You can use to find your nearest group.

How to get Next Meal cards:

  1. Go to Next and find your nearest soup kitchen.
  2. Contact them and ask how you can help, or if you can pick up Next Meal cards.
  3. Even just one card could make a huge difference to someone’s life.

How to make an easy New Year’s Resolution and help a person in need

2020 is here. The start of a new year. The start of a new decade.

So it’s time for some resolutions right?

Did you know: Research has shown that most people give up on their resolutions before the end of January.

So why not tick an easy one off within the first month of the year?

Here’s a few easy suggestions for resolutions to help other people – that’ll no doubt make you feel better about yourself too.


There are thousands of organisations across the UK that can use volunteers; soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and more. You can use to find your nearest group.

Give out Next Meal cards

The Next Meal website can direct homeless and vulnerable people to the nearest soup kitchen, shelter, or day centre on any given day.

Next Meal cards are an easy way to spread the word and let people know they can use the Next Meal website. 

If you don’t feel comfortable just giving someone a card, you could give them a card along with some food, or some money, if you wish.

Next Meal Saturday is coming up on January 25 – a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference. Check out our Facebook page for more information.

Donate to a homeless charity

Put your spare change in a jar and once it’s full donate it to a homeless charity of your choice. Or you could sign up for monthly payments, or simply make a one off payment.

5 steps to achieve a 5* food safety rating

5 star Food Hygiene Rating graphic

Having spoken to centres around the country, we know that the biggest concerns are Food, Funding and Safety. Our first edition focuses on food safety.

Food safety should be the number one priority for every centre and these straightforward steps will help you achieve the best hygiene rating.

The Food Standards Agency provides helpful guidance for any organisation serving food to the public:

1. The four main things to remember for good hygiene are the 4 Cs:

                 – Cleaning

                 – Cooking 

                 – Chilling

                 – Cross-contamination

2. Obtain the Food Safety level 2 course for all operatives (many can be achieved online).

3. Ensure that you have a contract with a registered pest control company. They can provide lots of helpful advice and guidance.

4. Engage positively with the Council Environmental Health Inspectors.

5. Never be complacent. Carry daily, weekly and monthly checks and always have an evidence trail.

If you’d like to contribute your ideas to improving safety please let us know – contact

Happy cooking!!!