Streetcare, a dedicated group of volunteers based in High Barnes, Sunderland, is making an impact on the lives of the homeless and vulnerable in the community.
Every second Saturday, the group gathers at St Gabriel’s Church Hall to prepare and serve meals to those in need.
Dave Marshall, the Chair of Streetcare, has been part of the initiative for about 14 years.
He said: “At the time, I just had some spare time, and I lived up the street. It was as simple as that. But then, when I got into it, I realised how much of a difference it actually makes to people.”
“It’s not always that people can’t afford to buy food as they often come to us for the camaraderie. We serve a three-course meal, and we deliberately keep it free, relying on donations from businesses, churches and the public to make it accessible.”
“We only have six volunteers, and that’s probably the most challenging aspect. Weekends can be tricky as people have other commitments, but we do our best to ensure the service continues,” he explained.” We won’t let anyone down. New volunteers are always welcome, and they will have a big impact on someone’s life.”
The Secretary of Streetcare
Marge Wilkinson, the Secretary of Streetcare, shared the group’s history, dating back to 1991 when members from St Gabriel’s Church would provide soup and sandwiches to rough sleepers in the city centre.
Over the years, the initiative has evolved, and now it serves 25-30 meals weekly to those who are lonely, living in bed sits or hostels.
Volunteer groups rely heavily on donations.
Marge said: “Just putting something in a donation basket in a supermarket or an office can make a difference. Families also need help, and even small contributions like beans or cuppa soups can go a long way.”
Reflecting on the best part of her volunteering, Marge said, “It’s the smiles and appreciation. Seeing people happy and enjoying a meal they might not have otherwise. Christmas is special for us; we make sure everyone gets a festive experience with turkey, crackers, and all the trimmings.
“Streetcare welcomes support from the community, and we’d appreciate any donations no matter how small that we can make a difference in the lives of those who need it the most. Anyone wanting more information can contact me at [email protected] .”