Volunteers ready to dish up hot food in Barrow to those in need
Simple meals are to be offered free of charge from St Matthew’s Hall, in Highfield Road, Barrow, one day a week for anyone short of money for food or struggling to get by after being issued with a benefits sanction.
The scheme will be run entirely by a troop of dedicated volunteers using public donations of food and cash.
Security guard Jonathan Wright, 45, who has spent the last two months helping to get the project off the ground, said he had been overjoyed by the amount of support from residents of Barrow keen to help in any way they could.
“It’s taken a lot of work,” he said.
“Now we just hope anyone in need of some simple hot food will come along and see us.
“Trying to live if you have had your benefits sanctioned is not only difficult but very isolating so we hope the soup kitchen will help in that aspect too, providing company and friendship for anyone affected.”
Mr Wright, of Salthouse Road, Barrow, came up with the idea for a soup kitchen after reading about the death of diabetic ex-serviceman Dave Clapson, from Stevenage, who died alone last year, aged 59, without any money for food or heating after his jobseeker's allowance was stopped because he missed an appointment.
Angered by the situation, Mr Wright has since worked with friends including Sharon Foden and Mel Harvey to find a venue and secure donations to get the scheme off the ground.
A dedicated Barrow Soup Kitchen Facebook page has gathered more than 700 members since it was set up in November.
It is hoped a fundraising event will take place in the coming months to provide cash to cover the cost of overheads as well as extra provisions.
The group hope to increase the number of days a week they are able to offer food, such as soup, jacket potatoes and pasta, as well as hot drinks and biscuits, to those in need.
Mr Wright added: “There are people starving out there because of an unfair system. It’s absolutely disgusting.”
“No-one should feel ashamed to come along and let the community help them.”
A date for the first opening of the soup kitchen is yet to be confirmed, though Mr Wright states it will be before the end of the month.