Soup kitchen re-openes to provide ‘lifeline’ to rough sleepers

Barnstaple homelessness hot meal service is back in business.

A BARNSTAPLE soup kitchen has reopened its doors to provide a much-needed lifeline to rough sleepers in the town.

Barnstaple Poverty Action Group (BPAG) was forced to close its weekly hot meal service last month due to a lack of volunteers after 16 successful years in the Parish Rooms at Paternoster Row.

But six weeks later, the independent charity, now part of Encompass Southwest, was able to reopen the kitchen yesterday (Tuesday) to offer tea, coffee and freshly prepared hot meals to those who need them.

The service also issues food parcels, hygiene packs, clothes and equipment such as tin openers and sleeping bags.


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It also provides signposting to other agencies and services and access to North Devon Council’s homeless officer.

Claire Fisher, advice services manager for Encompass Southwest, which raises awareness of poverty and homelessness across North Devon, said: “We have more volunteers now than we’ve ever had, and we’re so happy to be open again.

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“It’s easy to misunderstand these people’s situations; when you sit and talk to them it’s really frightening because you think, that could be me.

“We see all sorts of people here, people who have come from good jobs or ex-forces who can’t cope with civilian life.

“We also provide a first point of contact to put them in touch with organisations who can help them further and try and prevent them from sleeping rough.”

? A summer ball is being held at the Barnstaple Hotel on Saturday, July 21 to raise money for the charity and awareness of the work it does.

Tickets for the Glitz and Glam Summer Ball are �35 and include champagne on arrival, followed by a four-course meal and a ‘money can’t buy’ auction.

Claire added: “Every penny we hope to raise will be put towards making a real difference to someone’s life at a time when they most need it – it could happen to any of us, or families and friends.”

For tickets call 01271 371499.

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