Beeston takeaway comes to rescue with pizzas when food drive runs out in Leeds city centre

A takeaway in Beeston came to the rescue when a food drive in Leeds city centre ran out of food.

By Tom Coates
Monday, 27th June 2022, 4:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 12:10 pm

Helping Hands UK, a charitable organisation which serves food to those in need, was dishing out on Briggate in the centre of Leeds on Sunday.

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However, huge demand meant the volunteers ran out of food and there was over 40 people they could not feed.

Determined to ensure nobody went without, Toni contacted Pizza Pizza and requested assistance. Credit: Toni Mella-Sweeney

Helping Hands UK founder Toni Mella-Sweeney said: "Yesterday was mind-blowing. There were queues from the front of Zara to the market.

"We ran out of food because there's only so much I can cook."

Determined to ensure nobody went without, Toni contacted Pizza Pizza and requested assistance, which they provided immediately.

Toni said: "I phoned Pizza Pizza and I asked if we could have some pizza. He [Pizza Pizza owner Jay] didn't even hesitate.

Helping Hands UK is ran entirely by volunteers. Credit: Toni Mella-Sweeney

"There was at least 40 people with nothing yesterday because we ran out of food. Pizza Pizza rocked up with five big family-size pizzas and everyone went home with something, which made it worthwhile."

Pizza Pizza are regular supporters of the food drives and Helping Hands UK also have help from the likes of Asda, Tesco and Greggs.

Toni said: "Jay is an amazing guy. He got in touch with me and just said he wanted to give something back."

Helping Hands UK is ran entirely by volunteers and feel their services are important in the midst of uncertainty caused by the cost-of-living crisis.

Toni explained: "We don't just feed the homeless, it's not just the homeless that come out. After Covid, so many people had lost their jobs. Now there's a war and prices are going up.

"There's no employees, nobody gets paid, this is all from the heart."

Toni is a former drug addict who has experienced homelessness but now commits her time to helping vulnerable members of society.

Helping Hands UK offer various services and offer support to those suffering from dementia among others.

She said: "When I came off drugs, I had nothing to focus on.

"We started taking sandwiches and clothing to people and offering do their washing, and it just grew and grew and grew.

"People came on board to help me, they got involved and they got a buzz out of it."