CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Soup kitchen set up to help the homeless searches for new premises after being told it must leave council building

Streets Kitchen appeal: 'We are looking for some stability, just like homeless people really'

20 January, 2017 — By William McLennan

Jon Glakin helps to run Streets Kitchen from a vacant council building

A SOUP kitchen for rough sleepers that is run by volunteers could be made homeless next week as their ­head­quarters in Kentish Town are readied for building works.

Streets Kitchen, who provide food, clothes and other essentials for homeless people three times a week in ­Camden Town and King’s Cross, have been based at a vacant ­council building in Holmes Road for the past 12 months.

But Camden Council have told them they must vacate the building by the end of the month, leaving them searching for new premises to store the goods donated to them.

Jon Glakin, who helps run the group, said: “We are very appreciative for how the council has supported us, but we are seeking permanent accommodation in Camden. We are looking for some stability, just like homeless people really. The fact we are worrying about finding ­somewhere to stay is affecting our work.

“We are also appealing to commercial property owners: if they are leaving their property vacant, why not let us use them? You will be providing a vital community asset.”

The group are meeting increasing demand, Mr Glakin said, as the winter weather ­continues to bite. They already distribute sleeping bags and are appealing for donations of hot water bottles.

“It’s so cold at the moment,” Mr Glakin added. “I can bring about 20 gallons of boiling water, but we need the hot water ­bottles. So we are ­asking people to buy us a cheap hot water ­bottle or check their cupboards and bring them down to us.

“It will keep somebody alive, keep them warm for a few hours.”

Councillor Theo Blackwell, the Town Hall’s cabinet member for finance, technology and growth, said: “The council is committed to helping people forced to sleep rough in ­Camden to be provided with the services they require.

“In January 2016 we helped Streets Kitchen by providing some ­temporary storage space, rent-free, at the council’s Holmes Road depot. This was agreed with them on a short-term ‘meanwhile’ basis, but we need the space back at the end of the month to undertake planned building works.

“To help further I’m going to write to ­Camden’s 16 ­community centres and many tenants halls to see if they will step in to help with some ­storage space.”

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