Manchester City Council

Homeless men say gift food hampers put hope back on menu

A group of homeless men who received a hamper-load of meals through the We Love Manchester charity say the gift has restored their faith in human nature.

In poignant letters written to We love Manchester - which is the new name for the Lord Mayor of Manchester's Charity Appeal Trust - one of the men said the gift 'showed that in a world of chaos, angels still exist'.

The meals came via the charity from The Authentic Food Company in Wythenshawe, which made a pledge on Valentine's Day to donate 2,000 of its ready-made meals to needy people in Manchester. Those meals, which include hotpots and kormas, are now being distributed around the city, free of charge by Bramall Construction, which specialises in community regeneration projects.

Ninety meals were delivered last week to Chapter 1at The Limes in Longsight, which is a hostel for homeless men aged 16-30 years old.

Many of the hostel's residents come from traumatic backgrounds - some of the men have been victims of torture overseas and the majority have been rough sleepers. The men live on tight budgets in the hostel and have to fund their own meals. Staple foods like rice and potatoes are provided, but everything else needs to be sourced.

In his letter Limes resident Christopher Beaumont, 17, wrote: "When you say you live in a hostel for the first time, you feel embarrassed.....I felt that everyone had given up hope, that the chances in my life had gone.

"What you've done for me today is give me my voice back. In a world where there is so much chaos you've proved that angels do still exist."

Fellow resident Andrew Stewart, also aged 17, wrote: "The staff here try their hardest to get us food, but because there are 26 of us it's hard. We are very grateful for what we get."

Part of the policy at The Limes is for the residents to be taught how to cook in the communal kitchen, how to live on a budget and how to plan to make food last.

Manager Pauline Gaye, said: "We encourage all our residents to learn how to look after themselves and that includes learning about nutrition. We like to have big 'cook off' sessions where we pool food and serve it with a big batch of rice so that it becomes a social experience and it also makes the meals go further.

"The donated meals have had a profound effect on our residents. Love comes in many shapes and forms. And gift for your neighbour is showing love for mankind."

The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Cllr Harry Lyons JP, said: "The We Love Manchester charity is a way that all Mancunians can help each other. It's apt that this particular donation was pledged on Valentine's Day because I can't think of a better way of showing you care."

For more information about the We Love Manchester charity, which helps to alleviate the effects of poverty in Manchester, please visit www.welovemcrcharity.org