One thing that makes The People’s Kitchen so special for everyone involved is the diversity of our Friends and volunteers who are from all walks of life. In this edition of the newsletter, Michael shares his story.
When did you first get involved with The People’s Kitchen?
“I’ve spent a lot of time moving around in recent years. I heard of The People’s Kitchen when I first moved to Newcastle. I found out about getting some hot food, just what I needed, and started coming here. I had no fixed abode for three years; periods of homelessness and sleeping in hostels. I was looking for somewhere to settle down, arrived in Newcastle and thought, this is a nice place. I used to be married but that fell apart and I hit rock bottom with nowhere to go.
“I now have my own flat, I have a job, I volunteer on a Friday night and things are great! I work in logistics shifting things from the warehouse to the shop floor. It’s something I’ve never done before, I’m loving the job, absolutely loving it.”
Why did you want a job?
“I’d been travelling around for so long sleeping rough. But then I was getting back on my feet, getting accomodation sorted out and I thought, right, I’m in a place now where I want to work. I wanted to get back into society.
“So I was virtually spending every day firing off applications left right and centre, this logistics one came up and I thought I’ll go for it, brilliant.”
Why was it that you had no fixed abode for some time?
“I was living in Cumbria, married married, family, working, living the dream. I was drinking very heavily at the time. That resulted in the marriage breaking up and I basically fell apart. I wandered off into the world with no idea where I was going, what I was doing. I literally didn’t have a clue. I wandered around most of the country looking for somewhere to end up. I didn’t know what I was going to do, still massively drinking at the time. But it was when I got here to Newcastle I thought, after three years of this, you’ve got to sort yourself out.
“You’ve got to be in the right place, the right frame of mind, to do it.
“You sink into that pit where you can’t see a way out so you just carry on doing what you’ve been doing. You don’t see a way out of it until, well, just chatting about it. I came in here and people were saying, you know you could actually change, and I thought, OK, maybe I’m in a place where I can. And it worked.
“The best way I can describe it is persistently supportive. Not pushy, just each time I came, they (volunteers) would chat with me, ask if I’d done anything to help myself get sorted. If I can do that for one Friend…
“The old me wouldn’t ever have thought about volunteering at a place like this, but I love it.”
How did you become a volunteer at The People’s Kitchen?
“After about three months of coming for food, the volunteers were saying, you know you could be doing this. If I hadn’t been volunteering here I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do my job.
“I still see some of the group I used to see here. I’ve got friends at work now too. I went to the fireworks at Ouseburn with a group of work mates and had a brilliant time, absolutely brilliant.”