Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 14.32.05Volunteers who’ve put the needs of others ahead of their own for the past 30 years have been thanked at a unique celebration in The Alnwick Garden.

It’s a very special time for one of the North East’s most endearing charities; The People’s Kitchen, as it looks back in celebration on three decades of helping the homeless and vulnerable people of Newcastle.

Around 200 volunteers contribute to providing a high quality and relevant service for those people referred to affectionately and simply as “friends.” With a focus on friendship, the distribution of food and helping to achieve positive outcomes for those less fortunate living around the city, The Kitchen has changed the lives of many for the better. Indeed, the charity’s efforts were recognised at the highest level in 2014 when they were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Each year, around 40 new volunteers join the People’s Kitchen, no one is paid, no public funding is received and there are no professional fundraisers. Donations of food and money all come in thanks to the kind-hearted nature of the North East people either giving through schools, churches, businesses, private donations or the web pages.

Helping to run the day-to-day logistics of such a busy charity calls for special skills and most of the volunteers are unseen behind the scenes and very much away from the public eye. Practical help is on hand to the friends such as providing basic essentials like clothing, showers and events such as rambling and the allotment club. More than 1,100 local sources donate money and food every year and every donation, large or small matters and is put to good use.

Chairman, Bob Eldridge was delighted to host the celebration event for his team at Alnwick Gardens where more than 90 volunteers enjoyed a meal and dancing.

“This celebration is for our volunteers who week in week out provide friendship and a safety net for the vulnerable and homeless. Initially, our friends come to us to find help and security and over the months they forge relationships with other friends and volunteers who become their new family. The big question going forward is if The People’s Kitchen and our volunteers didn’t exist who would be looking after our friends?

“Let’s all hope that we can continue to recruit younger people so that The People’s Kitchen continues to have a positive impact on our friends for decades to come. I’m very proud of each and every one of our volunteers.”

The People’s Kitchen is now gearing up for a busy Christmas period making sure that each of its friends is fed over the festive period and receives the attention needed to bring a bit of normality into their lives, a task that the volunteers will tackle without fuss and with care and professionalism.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 14.32.16