Funding boost for East End’s 163-year-old homeless charity
A 163-year old East End homeless charity facing soaring demand for its services has received a funding boost for a ‘lifesaving’ service providing hot meals for people in need.
When Whitechapel-based Providence Row was founded in 1860, Queen Victoria was on the throne, Viscount Palmerston was prime minister and Abraham Lincoln was about to become 16th president of the United States.
Today, it still provides meals for people affected by homelessness, along with help tackling mental health and substance use issues and support moving into accommodation and employment.
The charity, which provides around 20,000 meals to around 900 people every year, has seen demand for its services leap by 70 per cent in two years.
It has been buoyed by a £221,000 grant over five years from City Bridge Foundation, London’s biggest independent charity funder.
Tom Hill, Providence Row head of philanthropy, said: “The food service is one of the most crucial services we offer – it’s really lifesaving, giving around 900 people a year the strength and energy levels they need to survive.
“Apart from the physical and mental health benefits which come from having a healthy meal, there’s also the benefit of being in a warm, safe environment where you feel welcome and can socialise with others.
“We find that the food we offer helps draw people in through our door and once they’re here we can start to build a relationship with them so we can offer vital additional support.”
Much of the food served is grown in the rooftop garden at the charity’s day centre off Brick Lane, managed by clients and volunteers. It also offers a catering trainee scheme offering clients the chance to boost their skills and employment prospects.
In times of severe weather, the food service increases from five to seven days a week and the charity opens up its doors to offer emergency overnight accommodation.
Giles Shilson, City Bridge Foundation chairman, said: “A lot has changed in the last 163 years but unfortunately the issue of homelessness, in London and elsewhere, has never gone away.
“With so much experience behind them, Providence Row is ideally placed to provide not only hot meals but support to help people get a roof over their head and turn their lives around.”
Case studies: ‘I send all compliments to the chefs’
Charlie has been using the food service at Providence Row for almost a year. He said: “For me personally it is a very important service provided by this kitchen. I send all compliments to the chefs, because they try and succeed with limited options to make extremely delicious food for all of us. Thank you for that.”
Service user Ana said: “Without this service we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop. They continue providing us with excellent service and I am grateful for everything.”