Leeds: Homeless charity appeals for food

St George's Crypt, Leeds.
St George's Crypt, Leeds.
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HOMELESS charity St George’s Crypt has made a desperate appeal for food as its freezers and pantries are almost bare.

A series of factors have hit the crypt at the same time, as it struggles to help the more than 30,000 desperate people every year who come to the sanctuary in the heart of Leeds. More needy people are turning up at the Crypt because of the recession, which is also affecting people’s ability to donate.

Funding from Leeds City Council is under threat because of Government cuts.

The problem is also seasonal.

Fundraising director Martin Patterson said: “A lot of food donations come in at harvest time which is September, and we are now half-way between.”

Another factor is an increase in crypt clients from Eastern Europe who have come to Britain in search of work, and find themselves destitute if they cannot get a job.

Every day, the crypt cooks 100 meals for clients who visit its facilities in the heart of Leeds – breakfast and an evening meal for 30 overnight stayers, and lunch for about 75 people who turn up at the crypt’s drop-in centre. The meals are cooked mainly by former clients.

The crypt also provides emergency food parcels for destitute people referred through other agencies.

Mr Patterson said: “We are facing some challenging times both in relation to the increasing complexity of needs being presented by our service users, and also the developing picture of a much tougher environment for fundraising.”

The crypt is appealing to businesses, schools, churches and the public to help restock its freezers and larders.

The crypt needs non-perishable tins of meat, curry, stewing steak, chopped tomatoes and beans. Fresh food, especially bacon, sausages and eggs, as well as other types of meat, are very much needed, plus fruit and vegetables.

The crypt has been operating from its base in Great George Street since 1930, when the priest at St George’s Church the Rev Don Robins and a team of volunteers opened and cleared the church vaults as a refuge for victims of the Great Depression.

Jess Carmichael.

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