Man arrested after handing out soup to people in Sussex park

Watch: Nick Smith is arrested by police accused of breaching Covid-19 rules

A man has been arrested by police for giving out free soup to people in his village. 

Sussex Police accused Nick Smith of not following Covid rules and his actions encouraged people to gather.

Mr Smith, who has been giving out soup every Monday for 17 weeks in Forest Row, believes he was not doing anything wrong because he was following rules on volunteering.

After failing to provide his name, he was handcuffed and is now awaiting a summons from police.

Mr Smith believes he has not broken any rules Credit:

The arrest on Tuesday 26th January was filmed on camera after police invited Mr Smith to the park.

Mr Smith said, "I just froze, people said I was so calm, I wasn't I was petrified. Not in a sense of I was scared but petrified in the literal sense. It was very confusing, very shocking very weird."

Mr Smith says what he's been doing has not only provided the community with something to eat but also a familiar face with lockdown having an impact on people's mental health.

"Showing up every week and being a feature they can rely on is what I wanted to do. They just come because they don't see anybody they don't talk to anybody and they're going crazy."

Government rules on volunteering

  • While volunteering, people can meet in groups of any size from different households, indoors or outdoors.

  • Volunteer groups must have no more than 15 participants

  • Volunteers who meet in groups or with others from outside their household or support bubble should be especially careful to follow social distancing guidance, or COVID-secure guidelines 

Sussex Police say they're supportive of community initiatives to help protect the most vulnerable Credit:

Sussex Police said,

"Officers engaged with the parties involved, explained the restrictions in relation to the lockdown and encouraged compliance with the Government guidelines.

"The organiser was arrested at the time, and later issued with a summons to court, having failed to provide contact details so a fixed penalty notice could be issued for the breach."Sussex Police are supportive of community initiatives to help protect the most vulnerable, particularly in these difficult times, and are working with the local authority to ensure individuals have the right safety measures in place.

"To protect themselves and the public, those who are providing a takeaway service are required to complete a risk assessment and adhere to Government guidance including social distancing and hygiene measures.

"Where this is not being observed, officers will take enforcement action. Local communities are therefore urged to continue to follow the regulations and guidance to curb the spread of the virus and help save lives."

Asked what he'd say to people who thought now was not a good time to handout soup, Mr Smith responded,

"If not now when, people are going hungry, people are going crazy. If not now when."

Nick chose not to give out soup on Monday but says his arrest will not stop him supporting the community.