Soup kitchen offers comfort to homeless

A COUPLE has served more than 180 meals to homeless people since setting up a soup kitchen in December.

soup run

Peter and Sharon Fitzgerald, of Kings Road, Lancing, launched the project as apart of Jubilee Church to help people who are struggling within the community.

The kitchen runs on Sunday and Wednesday nights, with the help of 85 volunteers.

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Peter, 47, a forensic nurse for Sussex Police and part-owner of a hot tub business, said: “The soup run is there to provide friends.

“People who will sit and chat, who will find common areas of interest, and have some laughs together.

“My wife and I had a friend about a year ago who told us about a young man who was 20 and on the streets.

“I was just appalled that this could happen to such a young guy and having met him I realised he was not a drinker or on the drugs scene.

“We helped him into emergency accommodation but it was hard and if he was left by himself he would not have got through the application process.

“There are appalling situations in the third world but we also have them right on our streets.

“Worthing is a very affluent, nice area yet it is still happening.

“You come across horror stories where people have been sleeping on a bench and have been urinated on.

“These people are part of our community and they may have problems but if you do not help them, their problems will just get worse and they also become out problems.”

The soup kitchen, which changes location according to advice from the police, can attract from five to 20 people per session.

Peter said: “We started in December and asked for volunteers from the church to help serve the soup.

“We were overwhelmed with the support we got, there was such an amazing response. LoRan Cake Co in Lyndhurst Road donates a tray of cakes once a week and Sunny Cafe also help us out.

“Different people in the church and from the volunteer group make the soup, we have a woman who is a chef and she devises the recipes.

“The meal we provide is very basic bit it is highly nutritious and designed for the needs of the homeless people we serve to.

“We are not trying to make it an attractive, big meal, and the reason that we now serve soup on Sunday evenings is because the day is known as ‘Suicide Sunday’ among the homeless community, particularly because there are no services on a Sunday and a lot of resources such as the library are closed.

“Homeless people generally are nine times more likely to commit suicide than other people.”

The volunteers often see people who are stressed out and upset.

Peter said: “A lot of homeless people drink because they feel they have no purpose in life.

“Sometimes we find people who are fresh on the streets because a relationship has broken down and they find themselves with nowhere to go. Often they will not have a job and no local connection.

“Worthing has very little housing support so our aim is to help people into private accommodation. When people become homeless you have to get them help quickly so they do not go to a place of despair and hopelessness.”