#PlatesForPeople – Top chefs volunteer to feed the vulnerable

Charitable housing association, Tyne, has established their ‘Plates for People’ campaign that aims to provide over 400 hot meals a week to its vulnerable Byker Bridge House residents as the UK isolates in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Coordinated by local charity Ouseburn Farm, the food will be prepared using fresh produce from the farm itself as well as contributions from The People’s Kitchen. The kitchen will be run by volunteers, and top chefs from local establishments such as the Cookhouse and the Wylam Brewery Group who will give their time and culinary expertise to cook for those living in the crisis accommodation, unable to go outside during lockdown. The initiative, part-funded by homelessness charity Crisis, is planned to run until the end of June, subject to funding and further support from experienced volunteers.

Steve McKinlay, Tyne Housing Chief Executive, said: ‘Our Plates for People campaign demonstrates the power of our community and how important it is to work together to support those who are homeless, at-risk, and in need. In dealing with the pandemic, a collective approach to continuing to deliver our services has never been more essential. Our team is working incredibly hard on limited resources to provide the best possible support to the North East’s most vulnerable people.’

Chefs and staff from the Cookhouse, Wylam Brewery, Träkol, Town Wall, The Bridge Tavern and By the River Brew will volunteer their time on a rota basis working from the newly refurbished kitchen at Ouseburn Farm. Food provision is currently provided by The Peoples Kitchen as well as Ouseburn Farm’s own gardens and orchard, however, further funding is needed in order to sustain the initiative longer-term. Key workers and volunteers from Tyne and Ouseburn Farm will deliver the meals directly to the residents. All partner organisations are unable to open and operate as usual due to government advice to lockdown and socially isolate.

Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “In these uncertain times, there’s only one thing that’s certain – that we must pull together and support each other. We know that people experiencing homelessness are hit especially hard by this outbreak, so it’s great to see that with our support Tyne Housing and Ouseburn Farm will be able to provide essential hot meals to people sheltering from coronavirus.

“The pandemic has shown how vital it is that we work together. So we’re incredibly proud to play our part in ensuring that everyone has the support they need to keep themselves safe.”

The Plates for People initiative began on the 24 March and aims to provide over 400 fresh meals each week. Part-funded by Crisis, the partners are currently seeking donations through their local giving page to help sustain the project longer-term as well as advertising for support from experienced catering staff who are able to volunteer their time and expertise.

To donate visit localgiving.org/appeal/tynehousingcovid19 or to volunteer your time contact stewart.turnbull@ouseburnfarm.org.uk.