In 2016 Government statistics showed that 4,134 people slept rough on any one night across England – this is over double the number counted in 2010 (CRISIS). This is solemn figure and it shocked us here at Rakusen’s.
Recently we were contacted by SPIN (Supporting People In Need) Leeds – a volunteer run organisation committed to helping the homeless, and people at risk of homelessness,
in Leeds – asking us to help them out with some donations.
At Rakusen’s we take every effort to uphold our tradition and support our community, so naturally we donated some of our lovely biscuits to SPIN to help them feed some of the city’s most vulnerable.
We took some time out to sit down with Simon Rickles, a trustee of SPIN Leeds, to find out a little more about their selfless mission.
Hi Simon, how would you describe SPIN Leeds’ mission?
SPIN Leeds is a volunteer run organisation committed to helping the homeless and people at risk of homelessness in Leeds. This can be through advocacy and assistance with housing options and bids; signposting to agencies who can offer direct assistance; food parcels or a warm meal and someone to talk to at our weekly street kitchen and outreach in the city centre.
We are also involved in lobbying the council, government and businesses to improve the services and treatment of people in need in this city.
How many people help to run and organise the events and work that you do?
We have 3 trustees involved in organisation and around 15 volunteers, although anyone is welcome to come and help so this number varies from week to week.
How long have you been working under SPIN Leeds and what encouraged you to start doing the work?
The core members have been involved with the Wednesday street kitchen and outreach for over a year.
I can’t answer for everyone but I started doing this because it sickened me walking through town and seeing how many people were sleeping rough and being forced to beg for a meal. As an ex-rough sleeper I know how easy it is to end up in this situation. I initially volunteered to help at a street kitchen, but I did some research and realised that the numbers were getting higher year after year. I realised that although feeding people helped, the council’s whole attitude towards homelessness needed to change in order to give these people a chance of getting off the street.
The public uniting and holding the council and government to account is the only way that attitudes towards the least fortunate members of our community will ever change. Since then I’ve been involved in raising public awareness and lobbying the council with this group.
How do you get local food brands, supermarkets and the wider community to involve themselves with your cause?
We mainly publicise the group through our Facebook page and have a website going live in the next few days (http://spin-leeds.co.uk/).
We make contact with local businesses by asking for any help with food donations as the food for our street kitchen and outreach comes entirely from our members and donors.
Where and when can your street kitchen be found in Leeds?
We open our street kitchen every Wednesday from 7-9pm to the side of The Headrow Gallery, Leeds City Centre.
We think that SPIN Leeds is a wonderful cause and we were very proud to help them out. If you wish to find out more about their mission, then you can check out their Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/leedsspin/ ) or their webpage ( http://spin-leeds.co.uk/ ).