The Oxford soup kitchen helping others in need as demand rises during pandemic

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Cary Johnston

Soup kitchens across the region say the number of homeless people seeking help has increased dramatically over recent months, with demand for food doubling during the pandemic. 

Some have even been forced to close their doors due to coronavirus restrictions.

One soup kitchen in Oxford is located at the Asian Cultural Centre, and has been helping the homeless and others in need, for more than 30 years.  

Icolyn Smith runs the soup kitchen with her son Gary Credit: ITV News Meridian

It is run by 90-year old woman Icolyn Smith, now back serving up hot meals for those in need, with a Caribbean twist.

Icolyn says it just comes naturally to her to help.

She says: "It's the way I was brought up, we were brought up to help others around us all the time. When we see anybody, we don't care who they are, we just help."

The kitchen receives public donations and supplies from the Oxford Food Bank.  

Icolyn's son Gary says: "A lot of homeless are invisible to the public, people walk past them, or say 'go and get a job', but everyone is just one pay packet away from being homeless, anything can happen. I met a guy the other day, he's 61, and never been homeless, and he's homeless because people are losing their jobs, can't pay their rent."

It is a downward spiral, fuelled by the Covid-19 crisis, but food banks like this one, are doing their best to deliver some relief for the homeless, in the run-up to Christmas.