Bags for life

Food bagsFood bags

Wanstead resident Frank Charles has previously featured on these pages as part of our ongoing occasional Angels series of articles. True to form, Frank talks about Feed The Streetz, his latest charitable project.

When I was younger I lost my job and, as a result, found myself homeless for a week. Since then, I have had a great deal of sympathy for people who, for reasons often beyond their control, are living on the streets.

I was fortunate in that, when I was homeless, there was provision for people like me, and I was offered a place in a hostel. Unfortunately, in the current financial climate, safeguards such as this have largely been cut. Most people do not choose to live out of a carrier bag, sleeping on cardboard boxes, alone and afraid. There are many reasons for homelessness: breakdown of relationships, loss of job and mental health problems, to name a few.

I have been running a food bank in east London for several years and used to take food over to rough sleepers in Stratford on an ad hoc basis. Then, before Christmas, I helped out at an event for homeless people and saw how many people attended. I was shocked. So, two months ago, I decided to do something proactive. That was when I launched Feed The Streetz.

The worst part of being homeless for me was waking up, cold and lonely, with an empty stomach. I decided to make up breakfast bags and take them to people who sleep rough – mainly in Stratford but also in other parts of east London.

At the moment, my wife and I make up 20 breakfast bags a week and take them out at 6.30am on Friday mornings, feeding people in Stratford Shopping Centre, Plaistow, Leytonstone and occasionally in Wanstead. Each breakfast bag contains a sandwich, cereal bar, fresh fruit, water and sometimes biscuits and fruit juice. Currently, there are two other couples from Wanstead who support us with food, so what goes into the bags depends on what's been donated. We are also grateful to the Hasler's Foundation, who have very kindly offered a monthly donation towards this project.

Ideally, we would like to expand Feed The Streetz to 25 breakfast bags, two mornings a week, and we are looking for donations of money, cereal bars, individual bottles of water or fruit juice, individual pork pies and sausage rolls, cheese pasties, crisps, wipes, sandwich bags or anything else that can be easily given to someone who is homeless. Money donations will pay for fresh fruit and perishables.

I am calling on the Wanstead community – individuals, shops, businesses, schools and groups – to get behind this project in any way possible because I strongly believe that no one should go hungry, regardless of their circumstances.

For more information about Frank's charity work and to make a donation, visit frankcharles.org.uk, call 07782 218 112 or follow Frank on Twitter @FeedStreetz


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