Kind-hearted hospitality business owners have been helping to make sure homeless people still have meals during the pandemic.
And they have had a surge in demand for support, with the team distributing 400-500 food parcels per week.
Street Friends revealed that the demand for food parcels has increased by 600% since September.
But local businesses, including the Aberdeen Muslims Foodbox, Thaikhun, Cognito on the Corner, La Lombardas, and others have been helping out.
Founder Justin Ritchie said: “Since our relaunch, we have seen a 600% rise, which has continued over a six-month period.
“Both of our Christmas and New Years’ Day special awareness/emergency outreach sessions were successful. Although Christmas was slightly quieter, the New Year session saw around 100 people attending.
“We have been ‘outreach only’ since relaunching. This means we are not inside a premises at any time issuing meals – everything is done from the street as an emergency frontline welfare outreach providing provisions.
“These can include hot drinks, meals, toiletries, clothing, pet food and more (all observing Covid-19 facts and safety restrictions at all times.
“Since Christmas, we initiated two Street Welfare checks every day – late morning and late afternoon – with emergency outreach. It is a small group (three) trolley service through the town centre.
“This has been a huge success reaching people and advising of ‘safe choices’ and ‘signposting’, as well as reminding them of local providers who can help them.
“I must also be sure to mention our full table and trolley outreach sessions available every Wednesday, from 6.30-8.30pm, and Sunday, from 5-7pm, outside Marks & Spencer on St Nicholas Street.”
Multiple local businesses have also volunteered recently to help the group in their efforts.
“It has been a struggle to keep up with the demand, but we have combined resources with local restaurants and takeaways,” Justin added.
“Aberdeen Muslims Foodbox are regular supporters, and we have recently had Thaikhun, Cognito on the Corner, La Lombardas, and others helping out on many occasions.
“However, we’re always appealing for other professional or food hygiene/approved premises cleared groups and businesses to contact us and offer ready sealed meals, soups and sandwiches to help.”
The group is always urging people to volunteer and donate funds, which must now be done online rather than face-to-face. Justin said: “Due to restrictions, we have lost all in-person donations as we no longer accept anyone dropping items off to the storage facility.
“We have lost both Pret and Greggs, who have supported us for many years as the main benefactors of fresh meals. This means we need to make our own sandwiches, soups, desserts and foods, all of which costs money.”
The group hopes donations can be used to help them expand their operation into another area of the King Street building they operate from.
Justin said: “We have been offered the second part of our current premises, which is far larger and will enable volunteers to operate inside, distanced, preparing items – with full hand wash and toilet facilities.
“It has multiple areas, enabling a safe number per area. But again, funds are needed to help support the payments incurred with this too. However with further closures imminent as per the first minister’s report recently, without this opportunity and donations, we may face closure.
“I’d encourage people to donate because we do not just see to the homeless, we help anyone in need – which recently has directly included victims of domestic abuse, vulnerable, addictions, mental health, isolated, rough sleepers and more, with the addition of individuals and families in dire poverty.
Email email@example.com for further information. Visit streetfriendshelpingthehomeless.com/get-involved to find all the relevant links for the group’s GoFundMe page and Amazon Wishlist.