HOMELESS people in Hull are being served up a healthy start to their days thanks to a new breakfast club, established at a city-based charity following support from the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust.
Hull HARP, formerly known as Hull Homeless and Rootless Project, has provided shelter, food, showers, warmth and clothing to homeless people for more than 30 years.
However, it had to close its Dock House facility in Peter Street, east Hull, last summer after Hull City Council gave the contract to provide emergency accommodation to another organisation.
Since December, the centre has temporarily reopened overnight using its reserves and donations to support homeless people through the bitter winter months.
And thanks to a £1,000 donation from the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust, it has also been able to establish the new drop-in breakfast club, which will continue beyond the closure of the overnight facility once again, on March 31.
Manager Linda Tock said: “We were closed at the time we applied for the grant from Neil Hudgell Solicitors, but there were still a number of homeless people coming to our door. Perhaps eight or nine every day.
“We decided to open up for the breakfast club and also a soup kitchen. First thing in a morning, people are feeling pretty rough and need to be set up for the day.
“Having fresh fruit is not high on the agenda for people, so now I am able to buy a great big bag of apples, oranges, bananas and pears for them all every day.
“If you’re outside and homeless, you are more prone to minor infections, and fruit does improve people’s health. The grant of £1,000 from Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust has been great and has been helping us to help a lot of people.”
As well as the Dock House night shelter, Hull HARP manages accommodation for homeless people in properties across the city and employs three full-time outreach workers, who support homeless people living on the streets.
It costs £6,000 per month to run the night shelter at Dock House. But, thanks to the grant from the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust, the breakfast club will be able to continue until at least June before further donations will be needed to ensure it continues.
Linda said those who rely on the charity have found themselves homeless for a wide range of reasons, possibly following the break-up of a releationship and the shock of finding they have nowhere else to go, or a downward spiral over a long period of time, such as rent arrears, alcohol issues or drug problems.
Through the breakfast club, people are now able to choose from a range of cereals, toast, porridge and fruit each morning.
The funding has also enabled the charity to cover the expenses of volunteers who travel to help at Dock House and ensure the breakfast club remains open.
Linda, who is also delighted with refurbishment work carried out by youngsters, individuals and businesses, said: “For a small amount of money, people can do such a lot.
“My first thought when we re-opened in December was to get people off the streets for winter. Now, we have to look at longer term. People in the community have been generous and we’re looking for people to perhaps sponsor beds too.
“We have been around for 33 years and people couldn’t believe it when we had to close.
“Some people who come to us have been homeless for a long time and Dock House has been a life-saver to them for a long time.”
The Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust aims to give back to the community and invites groups to apply for grants of up to £2,500, with a total of £100,000 available over a 12-month period.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the Trust, said: “We try to support as many community groups, charities and worthy causes as possible and homelessness is a huge issue which can sometimes be forgotten about when it comes to providing crucial financial support.
“We are delighted to have been able to support Hull Harp in being able to offer this breakfast club, something we know has been making a big difference to those who use it.
“The winter months can be devastating for vulnerable people and we hope the charity can continue to be a life-saver for homeless people for years to come.”
For further information about Hull Harp, call 01482 225029.