Kind-hearted Bridlington community rallying round town's homeless and needy

The kind-hearted community of Bridlington is rallying round the town’s poor and homeless.

By Duncan Atkins
Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 12:07 pm

People in need are provided with hot meals which are cooked in the kitchen at Emmanuel Church on Cardigan Road and are currently being served takeaway-style.

They are one of several agencies working with the homeless in Bridlington.

Curate of Bridlington, Rev Richard Townend, said: “It’s pretty much the only thing we can do at the church because of Covid-19 restrictions.

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Rev Richard Townend and Rev Barbara Bancroft of Emmanuel Church in Bridlington preparing hot meals.

“The homeless meals is an essential service, very much valued by various local agencies in Bridlington, providing a meal for the homeless and for those people suffering financially.”

As well as the Tuesday night hot meals, people are also offered food parcels.

“There is a great level of generosity at the moment as people are aware of the importance of providing food for people who can’t afford it,” he said.

On top of the donations from local people, bakery giant Greggs also provides end-of-day food which may otherwise be thrown out.

Deacon of Emmanuel Church, the Rev Barbara Bancroft.

Speaking about the problem of homelessness locally, Rev Townend said he was surprised how big a problem it was and how little support there seemed to be available from the Government compared to the spring lockdown, when people were offered accommodation.

He said it was heartbreaking to see rough sleepers out in the streets in plummeting temperatures.

“It’s dark and cold and you do really notice that it’s a grim place to be when they are out on the streets, in shelters on the seafront and in tents,” he said.

Hull-based charity Emmaus sends an outreach team to chat to the rough sleepers in Bridlington and try to find accommodation for them.

Deacon of Emmanuel Church, Rev Barbara Bancroft, said the feeding the homeless scheme began four years ago after chatting to a homeless man who said no meals were being provided on a Tuesday.

It turned out the man had a food safety certificate and he’s been helping out on and off in the kitchen ever since.

“When we first started, I was determined that we weren’t going to be just a cafe that serves food,” she said.

“But the idea was that the team would do the cooking, lay the table and sit down with the guests to eat with them and build up friendships and relationships,” said Rev Bancroft, although Covid has forced them to operate as a take-out instead.

People who use the service include some who are homeless as well as ‘sofa surfers’ who don’t have a permanent address, and those who do have a home but are struggling with benefits and can’t afford to eat.

Some have kept in contact for emotional and spiritual support.

“It’s good that we have been able to keep this on, we didn’t miss a week after lockdown happened, we did takeaway instead but carried on 52 weeks of the year,” she said.

Such is the compassion and friendship within the group, they even kept a cake by for a client’s birthday.

“We put a candle on it and she was really chuffed,” said Rev Barbara Bancroft.

The venture has united people from all walks of life, with support from churches in Kilham and Bempton.

“We work with the community as much as possible,” she added.

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