is to play a unique role in the City’s efforts to meet the needs of homeless and vulnerable people.
Founded in 1985 as a soup kitchen, we have now evolved to offer a range of services all with food and friendship at their heart during the evenings and weekends when professional support is not available.
From drug and alcohol advice to health and wellbeing, we work with professional partners in the City to signpost to other support to help our Friend’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Around 140 hot meals are served every single night that The People’s Kitchen is open. Add this to the meals we serve on the streets from our outreach team and you get over 40,000 hot meals every year.
We are run completely by volunteers. Our 200 volunteers work over 11 separate shifts giving up over 35,000 unpaid hours every year to offer a vital lifeline for our Friends.
We make life a little more bearable on the streets by providing sleeping bags, blankets and warm clothes. We’ve also installed hot showers into the Alison Centre for our Friends who are living on the streets.
We work closely with local businesses, charities and trusts, and are loyally supported by churches, schools, community organisations and individuals.
Set up thanks to one woman’s determination, our founder Alison Kay, our organisation has grown enormously from its humble beginnings under the railway arches at Dean Street, Newcastle upon Tyne but our philosophy remains the same. We continue to this day to offer clothes, food, warm surroundings and a warm welcome to anyone that needs our help.
Food is the vital first step in helping our Friends towards a better future and without The People’s Kitchen many of our Friends would struggle to afford every day essentials like a hot meal.
We provide 40,000 hot meals a year, from our own premises at the Alison Centre in central Newcastle and from our mobile kitchen which takes to the streets 3 times a week. Hot food, clean clothes and warm bedding are a lifeline to our most vulnerable visitors, many of whom suffer mental illness, physical disability, or drug and alcohol misuse or are rough sleepers.
Our own kitchen is fuelled through the help and support of others. We rely heavily on food donations and without the help of both local and regional schools through their Harvest Festival donations as well as large donators such as Greggs we would not be able to continue to produce the number of meals that we do.
We are also growing our own produce at our allotment on Nun’s Moor in Newcastle. Both volunteers and Friends work together on site to produce a sustainable and nutritional supplement to our food donations.
At The People’s Kitchen, our Friends appreciate the genuine interest our volunteers show in them. Problems of loneliness and isolation are commonplace amongst our Friends and by operating in the evenings and at weekends, we are offer a vital safety net for users who experience difficulties when other services are closed.
We support a diverse group of people, ranging in age from 18 to late 70s, many of whom have complex needs including mental health and addiction issues, which affect their ability to maintain independent lifestyles. Some of our volunteers are also trained specifically to listen and recognise areas where our Friends may need help and support, as well as having an understanding of body language, awareness of mental health issues, and drug and alcohol education.
We also offer a range of social activities to contribute to our Friends emotional and physical wellbeing. These include our allotment project which gives our Friends the opportunity to get involved and work with our volunteers; our rambling club which helps keep our Friends challenged and fit by offering regular trips to Northumberland and Yorkshire and our pamper evenings which provides Friends with haircuts and personal grooming.
Helping our Friends move towards independent living is a vital aspect of the work of The People’s Kitchen and our ‘Your Futures’ programme aims to provide that support.
We are committed to helping people take positive action to change their situation and help them to access a number of professional services that will help them progress to independent living.
Our ‘Your Future‘ programme helps our Friends to move towards independent living by providing access to essential services from our trusted base at the Alison Centre. We work with professional partners to provide joined-up support to people who use our services. These include the Adults Facing Chronic Exclusion (ACE) team, Crisis Skylight, the Joseph Cowan Health Centre and a legal firm who visits the Kitchen on a monthly basis to provide friends with legal advice.
‘The People’s Kitchen is good at feeding people, good at making people feel good about themselves, good at building relationships between people. And now they’re looking at where the gaps are and that’s what Your Futures is about.’