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As the cold hits Sunderland, we need to turn our anger into action!

The Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen is under pressure like it’s never faced before. The system is broken, and only by acting together can we fix it.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

When the temperature drops, the pressure on the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen increases.

A young man was made homeless in our region this weekend but was denied access to emergency housing services because he had his dog, his best friend in the world, at his side.

It was -2 degrees. When he arrived at the door of the Soup Kitchen, Andrea Bell had no other option but to provide the lad with a tent, a sleeping bag and blankets, a hot water bottle, and some dog food.

One of the volunteers gave him a dog bed from her car.

Our overworked, underfunded, and understaffed public services are beyond breaking point. They have no slack. No fat left to cut. Their staff are tired, they’re ill, and they’re underpaid.

A decade of starvation has them so weak that they’re unable to cope with any increase in demand, with no room to accommodate anyone who doesn’t meet the strictest of criteria.

Humanity has been removed from human services.

And when the services are not there, it’s charities like the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen are left scrambling around, working 20-hour days to ensure people are simply kept alive.

We should all be intensely angry about this. It is not right. Britain is a very rich country, but our people are cold and starving.

So... what should you and I do about it? Do we take to Twitter and make other people aware of our righteous indignation? We will be adding our voice to the online chorus of disgust and disapproval at the neglect of the weak by the powerful, but it won’t house, heat, feed, or clothe anyone tonight.

Right now, people are shivering in their homes and freezing on the streets.

So what can you do today, now - right now - before you’ve even finished reading this article, right now when our neighbours are in desperate need? Right. Now. Right now we can do something powerful.

We can act - together with others - to meet the immediate need, and then we can fight for a better future. Today you can donate to the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen. Donate whatever you can - £1 or £1,000 - in the knowledge that every single penny will help someone in need.

Homeless On Oxford Street In London photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images

If you have no money to spare but do have a little time, you can volunteer. Go onto Facebook and reach out to the Soup Kitchen to see what availability they have for helping out.

Provide a blanket, a cuppa, or a bite to eat for the desperate person sitting on the frozen pavement outside your local shop. Be the change you want to see in the world.

If you have no money and no time, you can simply help to spread the message. This is so important. You can talk to your colleagues, your friends, your family, your neighbours, or just the person standing next to you at the bus stop.

You can ask people to donate to the appeal on a Facebook page or a WhatsApp group - just a message with the Soup Kitchen donation link can do so much good.

You can send an email around your workplace. You can ask your boss to see if the company you work for can help. You can request that your trade union branch makes a contribution or spreads the message to your fellow members, many of whom will be turning to the help of charities themselves right now.

Or you might be someone who is fearful and cold and hungry yourself. If so, please remember there’s no shame in reaching out for support. As stretched as services are, the human spirit always shines through and we in Sunderland will always look after one another.

So far this December, around 300 Sunderland fans have donated over £11,000 to the Roker Report Christmas Appeal. Even more will have donated food and other necessities at the match on Monday night. This will all go a long way to helping, but the need continues to grow.

So then - when this Christmas appeal is done and we turn to look at the year ahead in 2023, we shouldn’t think the job is done.

We need to band together, act as a community, and fight tooth and nail so that the social safety net is there for everyone and that our public services are functioning in order to meet the basic universal human needs of all.

This is the only way to ensure that next Christmas and in all the Christmases after that there is far less pressure on workers at the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen. It should not be the case that the only option left to a young man and his dog is to sleep in a tent down the Seafront on a bitter December night.

Wales Daily Life Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The amazing volunteers at the Soup Kitchen are only human; they need to sleep at night, they need time to recharge, and they need more help.

And if they are able to go beyond scrambling to meet the needs latest crisis case and focus on the big issues of nutrition, food security, and food education that blight our city, they need your help now.

Today, Andrea and her volunteers are stretched to the limit and beyond. You can do it. You can donate, volunteer, or help to spread the message.

Turn your anger into real action.


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