Charity launches UK’s first free food delivery service for homeless

Members of the charity Caring In Bristol, who have created Cheers Drive to provide restaurant-quality meals to the homeless and vulnerable Credit: Wonderland Communications/PA

A charity has launched the first free food delivery service for homeless people in the UK.

Caring In Bristol has created Cheers Drive to provide restaurant-quality meals to the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The project comes as food banks and traditional food services for the homeless, such as voluntary food drops, have suffered due to social distancing advice and regulations.

Chefs, led by Josh Eggleton of the Michelin-starred Pony And Trap, will be supplying daily meals to the homeless and vulnerable in locations across Bristol.

They aim to feed up to 600 homeless people per day, the majority of whom have been moved by Bristol City Council from shelters and off the streets into places where they can self-isolate.

This includes rough sleepers placed in hotel rooms, hostels and emergency accommodation, as well as homeless families places in temporary accommodation.

Councillor Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing at Bristol City Council, said: “This is a really difficult time for everyone, and we are so proud that Bristol has risen to the challenge of making sure homeless people and rough sleepers have a safe and secure place to stay during the crisis.

“The Cheers Drive initiative will be an additional lifeline, providing people with healthy, hot food and a wide security net across Bristol’s sectors.”

Each homeless person who is placed by Bristol City Council into isolation accommodation will be fed by Cheers Drive.

They will each receive one delivery per day straight to their door, including a freshly cooked hot meal, as well as a packed lunch and breakfast.

A volunteer from Cheers Drive caters for the homeless and vulnerable Credit: Wonderland Communications/PA

People who wish to support the project are encouraged to buy a takeaway for someone who is homeless.

Ben Richardson, director of Caring in Bristol, said: “We are really proud to be the official food providers to all those that Bristol City Council has promised to house during this crisis.

“Traditional food projects for those experiencing homelessness rely on large public gatherings, soup-kitchen style handouts and unfortunately, they are no longer safe.

“It’s important that agile charities like ours can rise to challenges and meet the most immediate needs of those that are vulnerable during times of change, we will be there for everyone.”

Josh Eggleton will manage the three kitchens producing food for the project, including his own at The Kensington Arms.

Meals being prepared Credit: Wonderland Communicaations/PA

He will have help from Shona Graham of Emmeline and the Hatch at Spike Island, alongside Dominic Borel of Pasta Loco.

Ingredients will be provided by FareShare South West and restaurant donations from those still serving food as a delivery service.

Mr Eggleton said: “Coronavirus has caused a massive shock to the hospitality industry.

“Hospitality is all about feeding and serving people, and we’re going to work together, to support each other and as many people as possible.

“In times of crisis it’s great to pick up relationships with people in the city and after working with Caring In Bristol at Christmas I was keen to work with them on Cheers Drive to reach as many vulnerable people as possible.

“We are doing so in the safest manner possible. Safe for our volunteers, staff and those we’re feeding.”