Seven individual kitchens, in four locations in Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Stockton continue to be active, serving in the region of 250 meals and 500 drinks every week to some of the most disadvantaged and needy in the North East of England. Problems with staff numbers and a degree of unacceptable behaviour amongst clientele prompted the decision to suspend the Sunday evening Newcastle kitchen for a few weeks in November 2008. This was re-established in December since the Trust felt that the need there continues.
Typically, each year, around 13,000 hot meals are provided free of charge by the Trust to a range of clientele, about half of whom have no established home and are therefore obliged to live rough on the streets. As the credit crunch has bitten more deeply, there have been new faces as well as a continuing band of regular clients. Particular encouragement has come to the Trust when it has been possible to assist some in returning to their homes and families, whilst others have been helped to find accommodation and medical assistance as steps towards rebuilding their lives. Our employees and volunteers continue to give sympathetic practical support towards these ends.
Trust Membership has remained fairly constant and it is the Trustees’ intention that this be built up in the future. The Annual General Meeting held each July is followed by a Thanksgiving Service to which we are happy to welcome some of our longstanding clients who, along with our employees, give a very personal report on how the work of the Trust impacted upon their lives. Though attendance at these meetings has been lower than we would hope, the very direct and personal nature of the reports is both inspiring and challenging.
The Trustees were delighted with the feedback prompted by the original website designed by a volunteer who also ensured its regular updating to give a flavour of the ongoing work of the Trust. The new web site will continue that approach.
Improvements in communication have been built upon, including regular emailing between the Administration team, monthly meetings with the employees and quarterly Kitchen Diaries which are sent out to members and supporters and posted on the website. The Trustees are considering further ways in which communication can be developed and enhanced.
Towards the end of 2008, our faithful old bus, used in Middlesbrough and Stockton, began to be costly in repairs and general maintenance. Due to the generosity of a supporting Foundation, we were able to make arrangements for the delivery of a used vehicle very suitable for our purpose. This came into service in April 2009, after further refurbishment, and has prompted very positive comments from our clients, workers and volunteers.
The Trustees would like to express their gratitude to our employees and volunteers for their enthusiastic and committed work on the streets and to all members and supporters whose monetary gifts and practical support make the work of the Trust possible, productive and rewarding.
Our thanks also go to Companies and Associations which give us such valuable support.