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Meet the volunteers helping Nottingham’s most vulnerable people

todayJune 18, 2022 2

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It’s threatening to rain when I head into Sneinton market to meet members of Sharing the Love to help hand out food in the city centre. The team is not put off by the threat of the rain and neither is the queue starting to form near the tables the team has just put out.

The work that Sharing the Love do is vital as many stop by to get some food, an item of clothing and often, a friendly word. The team, led by Kenny Thwaites, is made up of Lucas Oldershaw, Laura Oldershaw, Chris Gorbez, Callam Fordham, and Chelsea Reason.

“Our numbers are increasing all the time. We tried to offer different things like food, clothing, shoes and emotional support as sometimes people just need someone to talk to. One of the biggest things you’ll find when you are working with the homeless is how many people with mental health issues just slip through the cracks because they haven’t had any support,” Kenny said.



The food is quickly handed out to those in the queue at Sneinton Market
The food is quickly handed out to those in the queue at Sneinton Market

Food is laid out on the table quickly as the queue stretches across the market. Hot food arrives in trays ready to be handed out and for some in the queue, this is the only hot meal they have had all week. They receive hot chips, rice and curry together with a food parcel that they can take away with them.

It’s not just the food that is handed out as a huge bag of shoes along with coats ready for people to try them on.

“We get donations of clothing and shoes from different places like Shoe Aid. They have just given us 17 pairs of good-quality shoes to give out. Oftentimes, people will just take off the pair they are wearing and bin them because they have leaks.”

The kitchen is dependent on donations from local businesses who have helped to keep the services going. However, a lot is also self-funded by the team who are desperate to look after those using the services who they call an extended family.

Chelsea has worked in fundraising for Sharing the Love for two years. She says that the team is incredibly grateful to businesses for the donations but there has definitely been an increase in visitors to the kitchen. She helps to organise raffles across the social media pages where the money is put into the food parcels.

“The food parcels have gone to a totally different level now. We were providing them during lockdown as well but it’s so hard because we pay for a lot of this out of our own pocket. We do get donations but it isn’t enough to cover what we do and it’s so busy now. I have been fundraising for blankets and hot water bottles in our local town. I’ve been going around to ask the elderly if they need any because the energy prices are going up – they can’t afford to have the heating on,” she said.



Sharing the Love prepares hot meals each week for the most vulnerable in the city centre
Sharing the Love prepares hot meals each week for the most vulnerable in the city centre

As each person moves forward in the queue, different team members joke and chat with the visitors often asking after different people and checking in. One of the two teenage volunteers leans in to quietly ask if one of the visitors is okay as they didn’t visit the week before.

“It’s a family here – these are our extended family members and we take care of them as we would ourselves,” Chelsea said.

Chris Gorbz cooks some of the food that is on offer that aims to provide hot meals made as cheaply as possible to feed as many as they can. As well as the food that he makes, Georgio’s chip shop provides 20 sausages and two trays of chips twice a week.

He said: “I normally make pasta bolognese, chili con carne or chicken curry with rice. It’s all self-funded so we try to do what we can with whatever will feed as many people that doesn’t cost a fortune.”

“People love the food but what they like the most is the way we interact with them. We treat them like our own and we don’t talk down to them. They love to have a conversation with us and that’s the best thing about it – it’s a little community here as they all know each other. On a sunny day, they will sit and chat with each other and it’s really moving to see it. That’s what keeps spurring us on to doing it every week.”



The food parcels ready to be given out
The food parcels ready to be given out

When it comes to the next steps, Kenny highlights that the team needs a van and storage space to keep supplies in.

“We really need a van. We use our own cars and petrol and the costs have risen a lot. We could do a lot more if we could carry more. We need storage too because. We are getting offered furniture that the homeless need when they get a room.”

He added: “If you have somewhere to store things then if someone needed something they could just come and get it. We could help a lot more people because it’s getting harder out there.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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