A vital part of Newcastle’s social infrastructure is fully operational again following COVID with its facilities and services bigger and better than ever.
The People’s Kitchen supports hundreds of “friends” across the city every day. Volunteers have supported vulnerable people in Newcastle for more than 35 years serving up to 300 meals every session, cooking everything from scratch. Started by the late Alison Kay in 1985, the charity is run entirely by volunteers, no government funding is received, and no one is paid for their work.
During COVID, a limited service was introduced with takeaway meals distributed at its doors under stringent social distancing regulations. Now however a total rethink of the logistics of serving food to the homeless and vulnerable has led to several major changes as trustee Jackie Boardman explains:
“We are now serving food 365 days of the year, five nights a week and two mornings so that people can get a hot meal every day. For those that don’t want to sit inside we also have a takeaway service too. We’ve also suspended our on-street service and every meal will now be served from the Kitchen. This is for a number of reasons but primarily it’s to help people stay warm and to give them access to showers. Being warm and clean is so important especially as the cost of fuel bills rise and we’ve also found that if people feel good about themselves then their mental health improves too.”
The way that the meals are distributed isn’t the only change to the Kitchen’s operations. In response to requests from their friends, the dining hall has been totally revamped and now has a boutique café feel complete with large wall murals and a lounge and library area.
“It’s been tough working all the way through the pandemic with so many restrictions, but it has given us the space and time to radically rethink how we can best serve our friends and we are all very excited to launch the new look People’s Kitchen, “said Jackie.
Donations can be made on The People’s Kitchen website www.peopleskitchen.co.uk/donate/