Some four years ago I became involved in helping to set up and then helping out in a soup kitchen, called Street Spirit, which was a response to some of the needs we saw among Southend’s homeless. Along the way I have met many lovely volunteers, supporters and guests, many of who we have helped, and it has been my privilege to be involved. There is no simple or singular solution to helping the homeless, and many have ideas of what to do, but this has been our response, as explained in the “About” section of the Street Spirit Facebook page, where much of our communicating is done…
Our Mission Statement: Caring for the homeless and vulnerable in Southend.
This group has been set up to offer grass-roots support to those who find themselves homeless, whether they are sleeping rough on the streets of Southend, sofa-surfing or recently housed and in need of practical support. We are a non profit-making organisation, consisting solely of volunteers.
As much of the donations as we can that we receive go directly towards supporting the homeless and/or vulnerable We are a non-religious, non-political group of volunteers, that includes those from all faiths, politics etc. and none (we have no allegiance to any political party or religion, and welcome support and suggestions from folk from all walks of life).
We are not a campaigning organisation and try to work on the basis of trust with statutory and other voluntary groups and the homeless without taking sides. We are almost entirely reliant on volunteer help and on those who donate or give food etc. items. We offer time and friendship to those who seek it, and raise funds via events in order to provide food, blankets, clothing, toiletries and essential items to those in need. Priority is given to those sleeping rough, but anyone who feels they need the support or friendship is welcome to join us for a hot drink and a friendly chat.
We meet every Saturday at 7pm until 8.30pm in the Clarence Road Car Park, when we give beverages, hot food, desserts, night packs to homeless and vulnerable folk, We may be able to offer some limited clothe and toiletry items and sleeping bags to those who need it. Sometimes when the weather is bad we are able to use the Salvation Army Hall across the road. While we are restricted in that we operate in a public space, we do try to provide a safe environment. We do not have registered charity status as we do not yet meet the requirements.
We have used the template ‘Small Charity Constitution’ as recommended by the Charity Commission, and are operating completely within their framework, but as our income is under £5,000 we are not legally obliged to register as a charity. However, we are registered as a Constituted Voluntary Group with SAVS and hold all relevant paperwork. This enables us to apply legitimately for funding. We try to operate within generally accepted health and safety and food hygiene guidelines.
We recognise that the need among homeless people is huge and the part we play is small, albeit significant. We are glad other groups also do their bit and while the support we provide them is limited given we need to focus on our own operation, we do what we can to help and encourage. We respect all those who do play their part helping the homeless.
If you would like to see our documentation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact here or any of the committee if you have any question or concern.
Many thanks for your support, The Street Spirit Committee