Where there is need, we will feed
Next Steps Mental Health Resource Centre in Ryedale received £2,000 from the Cost of Living Crisis Fund to provide hot home cooked meals and unlimited hot drinks to people in need across their four hubs in Ryedale.
Under the strapline ‘Where there’s a need, we will feed’ they supported people on benefits, those experiencing homelessness, older people, the isolated and lonely, families on low income, and people experiencing mental health difficulties.
They never turned anyone away over the winter and spring that the project ran.
They reduced hunger, loneliness and isolation and kept people warm and well in a safe environment.
From November 2022 – June 2023 they provided 429 meals supporting 57 families (228 people). The remaining people were single, 65% male and 35% female.
Jeff's story: You saved my life
When Jeff’s* 20-year marriage broke down, he continued to work but had nowhere to live. He diligently paid maintenance to his wife so she could pay the mortgage and keep a roof over his children’s heads.
A proud man, Jeff having never been in a situation like this before, and didn’t know where to turn.
He gave his wife most of his wages and just kept enough to put petrol in his car and left himself only £20 for the week ahead.
There was no way he could manage like this, and Jeff fell into a spiral of hard times.
Next Steps gave him a home cooked hot meal daily, made him hot drinks and provided him with shower and washing facilities.
He was very embarrassed, but those simple gestures and support gave him back his dignity, enabling him to function at work, be clean and fed.
Next Steps then introduced him to Citizens Advice for local housing support and Jeff is now in temporary housing.
Jeff now goes to Next Steps just to smile and say thank you on a weekly basis to the staff and volunteers, only occasionally taking up the offer of a hot meal.
‘You saved my life!’ is what he tells them.
*real name not used
Don's story: Next Steps are angels on earth
Don* is an older man, ex-forces and a proud and private person.
He started coming to a Next Steps Hub and made friends pretty quickly. Don seemed to linger after lunch and made a hot drink last a few hours.
Staff at the centre picked up on his extended stays and ensured he had regular free meals and encouraged him to join in as many activities as possible.
It was only after building up the trust to get to know him that the staff found out that Don’s bills had gone so high he was living on beans on toast at home. His phone had been cut off, and because coal and wood, which fuelled his house, had doubled in price he could only afford to put the fire on for an hour each night.
He was lonely, cold and hungry, and the little money he had he couldn’t survive on.
Next Steps staff found out he wasn’t on the correct benefits, and supported him to get the right benefits. Don now can afford a better lifestyle, and still comes to the Hubs for free meals and to socialise.
He cried when his benefits were sorted and called the staff ‘angels on earth’.
*real name not used
Jane's storey: The days don’t seem so bleak now
Living alone, Jane* only had £15 a week after paying off her bills from her benefits. She wanted to spend some of that remaining money on a mobile contract so that she was able to stay in contact with her only living relative, a cousin who lived in the south.
To compensate the mobile expense, she was surviving on two loaves of bread a week, some milk and tinned soup.
Next Steps gave her a nutritious free meal every day and supported her to reduce her bills. This increased her budget only a little, but it made a big difference.
Jane went on to makes friends at Next Steps and now volunteers to help others. She eats better and is happier and healthier because of it.
“I can never thank Next Steps enough. The days don’t seem so bleak now,” Jane said.
*Please note, real names and pictures of the story teller were not used in the above three stories
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