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Soup kitchen owner braced for unprecedented demand as food banks close for Queen's funeral

Tom Wood

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| Last updated 

Soup kitchen owner braced for unprecedented demand as food banks close for Queen's funeral

As the country prepares for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, a group of dedicated volunteers in Brixton are making a different kind of preparation that is no less important than whatever happens at Westminster Abbey.

With the news emerging that many services that help vulnerable people and people in need of food are set to close on Monday out of ‘respect’, Solomon Smith and his team down at the Brixton Soup Kitchen are bracing themselves for a massive spike in demand.

They already feed more than 100 people per day at the kitchen – a large increase due to the difficult times we are currently in – and are now preparing to pick up the slack for those places that are shutting their doors for the day.

Solomon Smith will be keeping Brixton Soup Kitchen open this Monday. Credit: Solomon Smith
Solomon Smith will be keeping Brixton Soup Kitchen open this Monday. Credit: Solomon Smith

Smith, a lifelong Brixtonian who has been helping feed people since 2013, says that whilst he understands the desire to pay tribute to the late monarch, he couldn’t countenance shutting down for the day.

He told LADbible: “Obviously we are sending out best to the royal family and our condolences, but we just thought that we have a lot of homeless people and people in need who still need support, so we thought we needed to stay open.

“We didn’t consider closing at all. We supply hot meals, warm clothes, warm drinks, but we’re an open-door policy so we don’t discriminate on race, religion, postcode – anyone can come in and get support.

“We get people coming from north, west, and south for a hot meal and just someone to talk to, so we didn’t feel like closing our doors when there is people in need was appropriate at a time when a lot of food banks are closed."

They are expecting huge demand due to other closures. Credit: Solomon Smith
They are expecting huge demand due to other closures. Credit: Solomon Smith

He added: “I totally understand if people want to [shut for the day to] show respect – I get it.

“I physically couldn’t do it. What I’m thinking in my head is ‘who is going to feed the people?’ When they told me that everyone is closing, I physically couldn’t do it.

“I need to stay open because there’s a lot of people relying on me.”

With that desire to keep helping comes an increase in demand, and Smith is expecting people from far and wide to travel to get a hot meal and – in some cases – see a friendly face.

He continued: “Our numbers of meals have gone up. We used to cook 60 or 70 meals per day, we’re now cooking 100 or 120.

“We are getting people coming from afar for a hot meal, so the need is there. We just need to be the guys that are going to be there for them.

“There is a desperate need in the UK – unfortunately."

Smith says he never even dreamt of closing. Credit: Solomon Smith
Smith says he never even dreamt of closing. Credit: Solomon Smith

“On Monday we’re going to be seeing over 150 people and possibly more, we’ve now told our chefs to cook more food, because we’re getting phone calls from people saying that other places are going to be closed."

However, he’s not disheartened by the added pressure.

He concluded: "This a line of work that is our passion, so we don’t mind the hard work, we just need to work smart.”

On Monday, they’ll throw open the doors of the kitchen and start helping people, regardless of whatever is taking place across the city.

That is certainly something that deserves a moment of thanks and respect.

You can donate to the Brixton Soup Kitchen via this link, or – if you’re a really great person – you can give up your time to volunteer with them and help make a real difference.

Featured Image Credit: Solomon Smith/PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: UK News, Royal Family, Food And Drink, Politics, The Queen, London

Tom Wood
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