Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but for an ever larger number of our fellow Mackems, it's also a time of stress, a time of worry, and a time of empty bellies.
It should be a time of hope, but for many people now it's a time of fear. It should be a time of joy, but instead, it's a time of sorrow. It should be a time of feast, but instead, it's a time -for some - of famine.
At times like these, looking after one another is more important than ever, and so we are once again asking you for your help to support those who work to keep people fed and warm in our community through the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen.
The need for this wonderful charity gets bigger and bigger all the time, and yet the money that the ordinary folk of our city have to spare gets smaller and smaller.
So today we are launching our annual Christmas appeal and once again asking for the help of our football community. We will be doing a few special things to help get everyone involved:
- we’ve created the perfect Christmas gift - a new and exclusive set of “Loch Ness Drogba” socks from the good people at the Sock Council. All profits go to the appeal.
- we’re recording an exclusive podcast with a BIG NAME former Sunderland boss!
- we’ll soon publish our annual tear-jerker podcast with the wonderful Andrea Bell highlighting the good work that your donations do
- we’ll have a few more surprises along the way, no doubt
It’s tough out there for almost everyone, and this is forcing greater numbers of people to seek the help available at the Albert’s Place takeaway and the Soup Kitchen’s Foodbank in the East End.
The team of amazing volunteers is doing more with less and the donors are digging deep despite their own struggles because the need only gets more stark.
The North East of England now has the highest rates of child poverty in the country. Two in five of the kids in our region live in a household whose income is below 60% of the average (median) income in England with inner cities like Sunderland suffering more than the wealthier outlying areas.
And still there is so much kindness in our city. Despite the rise in poverty, the people in our region are still more likely to give to good causes than anywhere else in England.
The Soup Kitchen is a charity that provides hot food - the kind your mam or nana might make you - to anyone who needs it three nights a week, plus a whole load of other services. They provide meat and fruit and vegetables cooked with love and served with a friendly smile.
Albert’s Place: Monday, Wednesday and Friday - Free Hot Food 2 Course Meal, 3pm to 4pm Sunday - Lighter Meal, 12 noon to 1 pm.
Starting Monday 5th December - MAD HOUR (Make a Difference) 6.30pm to 7.30pm, 7 nights a week. With hot drinks, flask supplied and refilled, sweet treats, conversation, and a sit down out of the cold.
Foodbank Support: Donations of food support every Wednesday 9am to 6pm.
Foodbank supplies to the public - varies, generally works around the person in need.
The Soup Kitchen also provides warm clothes. It gives out toys to children. It runs a foodbank. It has an allotment. It asks those who benefit to volunteer their time if they can. It is a true community.
It is a social service that doesn’t require anyone to fill in a form, undergo a means test, or provide evidence of their financial problems. It treats all comers equally; homeless veterans and those seeking sanctuary from war and destitution abroad, young working parents and lonely elders, those struggling with addiction and those fleeing domestic violence.
With the kind support of our readers and listeners, we’ve been able to support them with over £100,000 in the last couple of years. Sunderland AFC has played its part - last year Lee Johnson and Mel Reay did shifts at Albert’s Place and this year the club has worked with founder Andrea Bell to provide a space on matchdays for food donations.
The club will be using its platform to ask the whole fanbase for donations during our month-long appeal. Once again our football community is pulling together to support this vital cause.
We shouldn’t have to do this. But we have to do this, and we can only do it together. And so we need your help.
Here’s how you can help to spread the message right now:
- Click here to share our donation link on your WhatsApp groups
- Click here to share our donation link on Twitter using #SoupKitchen22
- Visit the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen page on Facebook and share their posts with your friends and neighbours
- download and print a Soup Kitchen poster for your school, workplace, community centre, cafe, or shop.
- email your boss requesting your company makes a corporate donation to the Soup Kitchen this Christmas.