Why is a humble Soup Kitchen so important?
It’s important because it is the home of the community that is often not seen in Sunderland. The community we’re talking about is one that lives on the peripheries of our city, it is a group of people who we know exist but sometimes choose not to acknowledge even in their most dire time of need.
In a year when community has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind, no sub-section of society are in more need of the generosity of those more fortunate. How these people end up in their situations remains irrelevant, how they have ended up at the door doesn’t matter to Andrea Bell and her amazing team of volunteers.
Everyone is treated as an equal, homeless or housed, reluctant in their acceptance of help or thankful for it. Nobody at the door is asked how or why, but simply what they need. That’s what makes places like this so special.
We’ve all had our battles this year, some more so than others. Knowing you aren’t alone, even in the most isolated of situations, is at times enough to keep one’s spirit strong. That’s another element of what Andrea and co achieve at the Soup Kitchen; those who attend here could be people who have fallen through the proverbial cracks, people abandoned by those whom they love or people seeking refuge from physically or mentally damaging situations.
When people are here, they can connect - even on a minor level. These people aren’t necessarily friends but they all share something that has brought them to Andrea’s door. Having even that singular shred of commonality, that opportunity to speak to someone who can understand the how and the why they are there, is sometimes just enough to keep their heads above water - to feel even for a moment that they aren’t alone.
This isn’t a place when people stand and look at the floor, it’s somewhere where heads are held high. There isn’t shame here, far from it.
Last year, myself and Gav had the chance to go to the Soup Kitchen’s former location to see first hand their amazing work, and it was an experience that left us both humbled beyond our expectation. It also drove home just how hard these volunteers work, how much they rely on the generosity of others but, more than anything else, how much they genuinely care about these people.
It was shown by the fact that rather than stop at feeding people, Andrea clothed them too and I’m sure if she could, would house them herself. That’s the kind of people who work here, a perfect reflection of what we like to consider Sunderland and the North East to be - generous, hard-working and honest.
Aside from food, Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen offers many a chance, to others it may offer a break in suffering. That it offers so much more than food is something that, ultimately, cannot be ignored. In a time where uncertainty reigns supreme and more people than ever are in or within touching distance of poverty and destitution, places like Soup Kitchens offer hope when others feel all may be lost.
Here’s a sneak peak of the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen Warehouse... all of this food will be gone by Christmas. This is how serious the hunger poverty problem is in Sunderland.— Roker Report (@RokerReport) December 19, 2020
DONATE: https://t.co/L9381bbVRI#HawaySunderland | #SAFC ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/R3TlfJhwKq
So on the back of a what has been a terrible year for us all, all we ask is that you donate if and what you can afford. To offer one last burst of community spirit in 2020 to help those who need it most. Though we like to think otherwise, none of us are ever far from potentially needing to lean on places like this, and nor should we be ashamed if we ever have to.
What Andrea and her team do is truly amazing, these people are truly amazing, so help us to help them keep up that work and help the people who need it the most.
Finally, as we make a drive to reach £18,000 and above, we ask once more for your help, whether its retweets, shares, likes or anything else you can do. Because your money doesn’t just buy the physical goods, it buys the unquantifiable spirit needed for a community that often relies solely on your charity.