A PROJECT to help feed the homeless has received a welcome boost.
St Mary’s Open House, in Bridge Street, Sunderland, has proved popular since opening in December.
Every Thursday, the project offers free food and friendly faces to homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged people from across the region.
Run by volunteers and entirely on donations, the project has received a helping hand from Barclays bank, whose city centre staff are dishing out food to the homeless.
Volunteer Tracey Featherstone said: “Barclays bank in Sunderland has chosen our charity as a way of giving back to the community, which is fantastic.
“They come down and help set up and serve food for us, as well as providing all of the food and carrying out fund-raising for us.”
She added: “I’m really pleased that they have offered to do this for a month as their support really does make a difference.”
Cash raised by staff is used to buy all the ingredients for the meals dished up, as well as donations from other companies, including Thoburns the fruiterers and Rob’s Butchers.
Since launching, the scheme, which is run by St Cuthbert’s Care, has gone from strength to strength.
On an average Thursday between 120 and 160 people seek refuge at the city centre soup kitchen and are able to help themselves to a free hearty meal.
Tracey added: “This is the first step towards helping and the first step on the road to recovery for some.
“It’s about saving lives and doing a little bit more for our community.
“If a bowl of soup, a warm place and a friendly face helps, then that’s a start.”
In December, Miss Sunderland Philippa Attle took time out of her schedule to serve soup at the venture, and Stadium of Light chef Donna Smith has been calling on her culinary skills to cook up a storm in the kitchen.
The Open House project is open every Thursday from 10am to 2pm.