Coronavirus: update from Edinburgh

As part of our regular contact with centres on the Next Meal network, we asked Edinburgh City Mission for an update on their activities during the Covid-19 lockdown. Here’s what they told us.

Our services for people who are experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh are still running.

Maria Reyes, Edinburgh City Mission

The Care Van, our project run in partnership with Bethany Christian Trust, is still providing soup, food, hot drinks, encouragement and advice to up to 50 homeless and vulnerable people a night.

Edinburgh City Mission co-ordinates the evening rotas for 42 teams that are drawn from churches across the Lothians and includes over 750 volunteers. In terms of numbers, they are slowly rising again for the Care Van, from mid-20s before the restrictions to 43 on Monday. 

We are now also running two Soul Food ‘Grab & Go” Take Away Meals, one at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church in Newington, and one at Carrubbers Christian Centre on the High Street. Soul Food has also other partners around the city, all still providing now Take Away Meals in order to adjust to the crisis. In terms of numbers, they have also been increasing. This week in the two meals we run we had nearly 70 people. 

Colin Ramsay, Care Van volunteer

From all of us at Next Meal, a massive thank you to all the staff and volunteers in Edinburgh for keeping things going during these difficult times.

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.

Member Spotlight: Opera Messa della Carità, Milan

Photo of canteen

My name is Paolo…

My warm greetings to all the homeless centres across Europe.

I have been volunteering for two years and I am mainly involved in assisting the manager. I commit to my duties here with a lot of passion and the help that I provide, even if it is small, makes me very happy. I know I am just a drop in the ocean, but  a lot of drops together will create the ocean itself.

Since I have started volunteering, the number of guests that comes into the canteen is pretty much the same. We host 100-120 people daily except Saturdays. We are also closed in August. We can say that in Italy there is a common break, so it is very difficult to find volunteers. That does not mean that we leave poor people alone, since there are other centres where they can easily find assistance and their next meal.

The guests are mostly men (80-90%). We do host women and they usually have a separate area in the canteen where they can enjoy their meal, unless they have sons or their husband, in which case they eat all together.

The majority of our guests come from abroad. Almost all of them speak Italian even if it’s just a little. Then you can hear English, French, Spanish which are also comprehensible for us. There are a few cases of African or Asian guests who do not speak or understand any other language. That makes the conversation a bit difficult but not impossible. Because all the guests have been living in Italy, they do speak a basic Italian and Milan offers free courses to learn Italian too.

A typical meal at the OMC consists of traditional food: pasta or rice as a main course, soup, meat and veggies or a cold dish as a second course, fruits, desserts and vegetarian options on request.

According to a Milanotoday article there are 2,608 homeless in Milan.

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.

Singing for the soupy!

Opera singer and Muswell Hill local Lesley Garrett
Opera singer Lesley Garrett

Here’s a little insight into something we did in Muswell Hill to raise funds.

We organised an event called “Sing for the Soupy”. The event took place on a Saturday afternoon and ran for around one hour.

We were very lucky to have opera singer and local celebrity Lesley Garrett take part and sing in our local church. We also had children from local schools participate. It was a really fun way to raise funds.

It involved the whole community and everyone had a wonderful time. It was really uplifting for the singers and the audience. Most importantly, we raised funds!