Bygones Café in Wisbech is opening its doors to the homeless with special evening run by 50 Backpacks charity volunteers
Café owners Andy Maul and his partner Vikki Moore are opening their doors to the homeless as part of the 50 Backpacks charity initiative.
Last night saw the trial run of the Tuesday evening ‘soup kitchen’ at Bygones Café in Wisbech run by Spencer Neilly and his girlfriend Claire Surguy and a host of other 50 Backpack volunteers.
The Citizen covered the story of Spencer and Claire’s drive to hand out essentials including sleeping bags, toiletries and clothing to the town’s homeless in November.
Since then the charity has escalated and Claire said they have seen the move to help those in need grow in the past few months.
She said: “We have been talking to Andy for a while now, but he wanted to get the busy Christmas period out of the way. Now he has agreed to let us use his café to provide a hot meal once a week.
“We are hoping to make it like a one stop shop for the homeless and we have got barbers signed up to offer haircuts - James Banks from Banks Barbers in Wisbech and also Floyds Barbers in Long Sutton.
“We plan to hand out warm clothing and bedding as well as tinned food supplies. We have also got a chiropodist willing to look at people’s feet, because they can suffer problems from having wet and cold feet all the time.
“We are extremely grateful to Andy, who has agreed to provide the food for the first few weeks, but we are hoping to get local butchers and grocers involved to donate food for the meals going forward.”
Claire said they are also working with other charities in the town including the Ferry Project, to offer people things like a chance to have a bath or shower and also to wash and dry their clothes.
People attending the Tuesday evening meal - 4.30pm to 6.30pm - will be able to arrange those things too.
Claire said the charity is also looking for a central storage place where they can keep donated items. It needs to be a reasonable sized shed or something similar, that can be properly secured. Claire would love to hear from anyone who can help provide such a facility at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy, who opened the café to serve 28 Christmas dinners on Christmas Day to those who would otherwise be on their own, said: “We have been talking about doing this for some time. This week is a trial run and we really do not know what to expect.
“The volunteers are cooking the hot meal of sausage and mash, we may have one person turn up, we may have a dozen or more but we will see how it goes.
“It would be great if it becomes a place where the homeless know they can come once a week for a hot meal and essentials like clean clothes, bedding, and toiletries.
“It would also be great if we could get people in from agencies who might be able to help get these people off the streets. We will officially launch next Tuesday when the mayor will be here.”
Items of clothing and toiletries can be donated via the Acme Cabs office in Blackfriars Road.