Keeping a soup kitchen open in coronavirus times

Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen has introduced a takeaway service to ensure it can continue to prove nutritious meals for the homeless during these extraordinary times. The Ham & High came along to see it in action.

Muswell Hill soup kitchen team prepares for a takeaway service.

It’s Official: Next Meal Launched as a Charity

After years of hard work, countless hours of volunteer effort and many lives being changed, Next Meal has officially been launched as a charity.

The official launch was hosted at the House of Commons this month, an event that was attended by politicians, government officials, and volunteers.

It marks great progress for Next Meal since we first began in 2017.

Founder Martin Stone said he was extremely proud of how much Next Meal had grown in such a short time.

Martin’s pride was shared by several prominent officials at the launch, who acknowledged the great success of Next Meal and applauded the work being done.

NHS regional director for London Sir David Sloman said Next Meal did more than just help provide people with food.

“It’s not just about giving people a hot nutritious meal, it’s about bringing people together, to share stories, talk to each other and get some warmth in their lives.

“Something we take for granted, but which many many people don’t have.”

Maria Goddard of Whittington Hospital said Next Meal was making real changes to people’s lives.

“Feeding someone is such a basic expression of caring. Lives can be saved and I believe they already have been by this simple signposting.”

Comedian Sean Lock, a neighbour of Martin’s who also helped with the original launch of Next Meal,  shared a few laughs.

“I thought ‘Why not? Why not do something good? And maybe you’ll get something out of it for you – like George Clooney did for Nespresso’.

“I could be the Next Meal guy,” He joked.

The event was hosted by Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West and Gravesham MP Adam Holloway.

Catherine said it was an honour to be associated with Next Meal and praised everyone involved.

Adam agreed and said there were a lot of soup kitchens in the country: “What this is doing is bringing them together.”

The launch followed another recent milestone, the second year of Next Meal Saturday.

Imagine If You Had the Power to Change Someone’s Life…

January 25, 2020, was a lot like many other winter’s days in the United Kingdom.

At a high of about 6degC it was not one you wanted to spend outside for long.

Across the country, people saw their friends, had a beer at the pub, watched football, and spent time with their families.

And on that same day, hundreds of people sat in the cold, shivering, hungry and alone – because they had nowhere else to go.

An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the United Kingdom, according to statistics from homeless charity Shelter.

That’s why, on that same day – January 25, 2020 – volunteers went and handed out Next Meal cards and food to mark Next Meal Saturday.

Next Meal Saturday is the ambitious goal of giving a Next Meal card to every homeless or vulnerable person in the UK.

A Next Meal card is a way to raise awareness for the Next Meal website – which uses GPS to help people find their nearest soup kitchen, shelter, or day centre on any given day.

London lead the way, with volunteers at Kings Cross, Euston, and London Bridge handing out cards and food.

Next Meal founder Martin Stone marked the day in Exeter – where the city’s cathedral was lit up with Next Meal’s logo and message.

“Every card that was handed out carries the potential to change a life,” Martin said.

“Helping people find their nearest soup kitchen means they can get a regular source of food, some warmth, and even some genuine human interaction.

“Even just one card can make a huge difference.”

Next Meal Saturday started in 2019, with 2020 marking its second year.

“Next Meal Saturday is going from strength to strength,” Martin said.

“We’re looking forward to 2021 being even more successful.”

From a standing start, the Next Meal website now lists almost 400 centres offering food and support.

5 Easy Ways You Can Help a Homeless Person (That Don’t Involve Giving Money)

There is a lot of debate about whether you should give money to homeless people.

Some argue it is better to give that money to an organisation committed to helping homeless people. A common argument against giving homeless people money is: ‘they’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol’.

But who’s to say what a homeless person will spend their money on? And it can be quite difficult and cold to simply turn a blind eye to those in need. 

Do you turn your music up? Keep reading your book? Look away? Or politely say no?

There are plenty of ways you can help that don’t involve giving someone money, but that can still have a positive impact.

Here are a few suggestions, but it’s up to you to do whatever you feel comfortable doing.

Here are some ways you can help:

Buy someone food

Is there someone begging outside a supermarket? Buy them a sandwich or a non alcoholic drink instead of giving them money. 

Carry some small items of food with you

If you regularly pass someone begging for money, you could buy some food in advance and give it to them when you see them. Fruit and cereal bars are just a couple of ideas.

Give them a Next Meal card

The whole purpose of Next Meal is to help homeless people in a huge way, that can improve their lives much more than a few coins ever could.
If you don’t feel comfortable just giving them a card, you could give them a card along with some food, or some money, if you wish.

Donate to a homeless charity

Put your spare change aside and once you have hit a certain goal, donate that to a homeless charity of your choice. Or simply sign up for monthly payments, or make a one off payment.

Volunteer 

There are thousands of organisations across the UK that can use volunteers; soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and more. You can use NextMeal.com to find your nearest group.

How to get Next Meal cards:

  1. Go to Next Meal.co.uk and find your nearest soup kitchen.
  2. Contact them and ask how you can help, or if you can pick up Next Meal cards.
  3. Even just one card could make a huge difference to someone’s life.

How to make an easy New Year’s Resolution and help a person in need

2020 is here. The start of a new year. The start of a new decade.

So it’s time for some resolutions right?

Did you know: Research has shown that most people give up on their resolutions before the end of January.

So why not tick an easy one off within the first month of the year?

Here’s a few easy suggestions for resolutions to help other people – that’ll no doubt make you feel better about yourself too.

Volunteer 

There are thousands of organisations across the UK that can use volunteers; soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and more. You can use NextMeal.co.uk to find your nearest group.

Give out Next Meal cards

The Next Meal website can direct homeless and vulnerable people to the nearest soup kitchen, shelter, or day centre on any given day.

Next Meal cards are an easy way to spread the word and let people know they can use the Next Meal website. 

If you don’t feel comfortable just giving someone a card, you could give them a card along with some food, or some money, if you wish.

Next Meal Saturday is coming up on January 25 – a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference. Check out our Facebook page for more information.

Donate to a homeless charity

Put your spare change in a jar and once it’s full donate it to a homeless charity of your choice. Or you could sign up for monthly payments, or simply make a one off payment.

What is Next Meal Saturday?

January 25 is fast approaching and that means Next Meal Saturday is almost here.

But that may have you asking: ‘What is Next Meal Saturday?’

Next Meal Saturday is our ambitious goal of giving a Next Meal card to every homeless or vulnerable person in the UK.

A Next Meal card is more valuable than money. By giving it to someone, you’re helping them find the nearest soup kitchen, shelter, or day centre on any given day.

On January 25, volunteers will be on the streets handing out the cards to the homeless, hungry and vulnerable. 

“Even just one card can make a huge difference to someone’s life,” Next Meal founder Martin Stone said.

Next Meal Saturday started in 2019 and is now into its second year.

“Next Meal Saturday is going from strength to strength,” Martin said.

“We know it’s an ambitious goal, but that’s what Next Meal was set up for.”

This year Martin will be leading the cause from Exeter. But he encouraged people to get involved wherever they were.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Go to Next Meal.co.uk.
  2. Find your nearest soup kitchen.
  3. Contact them and ask how you can help, or if you can pick up Next Meal cards.
  4. On January 25, give out a card- even just one card could make a huge difference.

Use the hashtag #NextMealSaturday on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to tell us how you got on. We’d love to hear from you.

Hot off the presses… our latest newsletter

#nextmealsaturday is coming, and we’re getting ready. On January 25th volunteers will be on the streets handing out Next Meal cards to the homeless, hungry and vulnerable. 

Please join us. Over the next week we’ll be sending an action pack including cards, flyers and instructions to every centre in the Next Meal network. The more cards we can distribute, the better we can help the homeless find their nearest centre.

Also in this issue of What’s Next, Pret A Manger talk to us about helping the homeless, and we celebrate our latest Volunteer of the Month.

Read the newsletter here.