Soup Run is a Lifeline

But more than 60 people are counting the minutes all day until it arrives at night.

Last year the Plymouth Soup Run served more than 23,000 meals. The highest number of meals to be served on one evening is 101 and on average they serve over 60 people, every single night of the week all year round.

On a cold, drizzily November night more than 80 soup run volunteers joined forces to walk the five-mile soup route around the city centre, and raise money for the service. More than £2,000 has been raised so far.
Among the walkers were schools, businesses, churches and individuals. The Plymouth Soup Run is a lifeline for many and it’s completely volunteer led. The Salvation Army co-ordinates it but the service is run by a different team of volunteers every evening.

Between Monday and Saturday the soup run route is mobile, stopping at four locations – Charles Cross, the Hoe, Devil’s Point and King’s Road. Every Sunday the soup run is moved indoors to Shekinah Mission.

The numbers of people utilising the service are increasing every year and for some, a bowl of hot soup is the only meal they would have all day. Shekinah Mission’s drop-in centre is not open at the weekends and for some they could wait until Monday until they eat again.

Lyndsey Withers, a volunteer for the soup run and at the Devonport Lifehouse, said: “The hot is important. The thing about weekends is Shekinah is open Monday to Fridays; it’s got a drop-in centre and there are churches that do free food cafes but they only operate between Monday and Friday. Saturday and Sunday are bleak times for homeless people.

“There are something like 13 people sleeping rough a night. It isn’t only them who use the soup run. It’s the homeless and the hungry, people who have to decide whether to pay their rent or buy food. Choosing between Heating and eating – it’s sad but true.

“Sometimes it’s the only social interaction someone will have in the day. I think some weeks we may occasionally get a passing student there but we don’t know. We don’t question it – someone has made the effort to come to us then we will feed them.

“People know each other on the streets and they sometimes avoid each other. It’s not a healthy community, literally. There are people with physical health problems and mental health problems. Plymouth at night time is not a very attractive place – sometimes people are quite reclusive.