Started in October 2017, the Hall at St Vincent’s, known locally as Vinnies, in Newcastle upon Tyne, is a place where everyone who visits is made to feel welcome to meet, eat and chat with friends, in a warm and spacious environment.
Since its inception, the essential service has quickly grown to feed in excess of 140 isolated and homeless people on a weekly basis, thanks to the Fare Share Scheme, where the kitchen coordinator, alongside a dedicated team of volunteers, take care of collecting unwanted food from local supermarkets and cooking it into delicious and freshly prepared meals.
In addition, the hardworking team of volunteers provide table service to the visitors, as well as a range of services from haircuts to housing advice, and help with benefits or just a listening ear.
A sharp rise in the number of people attending in recent months, as well as the rising costs of the ingredients used to make the meals on its menu, has been eased by Northumberland Freemasons who, through the Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund, have donated £1000 to assist with the weekly drop-in lunch club, where visitors receive a free, hot three-course lunch, prepared by the selfless team of volunteers.
Rebecca Stevenson-Read, the Centre Manager, explained “St Vincents Newcastle was delighted to receive a grant award from Northumberland Freemasons. This generous grant allows us to meet the increased demand on our support services offering essential food, clothing and household items to those struggling in our communities. Last year St Vincents supported over 12,000 people. The cost of living is impacting us all, but we know that for some, things can get quite desperate quite quickly. Northumberland Freemasons values the practical, responsive and respectful way St Vincents helps anyone in need, and we are deeply appreciative of their support.“
Norman West, the Provincial Grand Almoner of Northumberland Freemasons, said ” When the Trustees of the Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund were asked to help this important and vital centre in Newcastle, which supports many families and individuals during these difficult and testing times due to the financial crisis which we are all facing, there was no hesitation to give a grant of £1000 to help cover the cost of the Lunch Club and Food Bank, as well as the other services which St Vincent’s provide helping those facing daily challenges”
The Benevolent Fund donates around £160,000 annually to local charities and good causes, including food banks, to boost worthwhile and deserving projects throughout Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.
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