A Nottingham street kitchen for the homeless manager is appealing to local businesses to sponsor the ongoing running of the service.
Founder of the organisation, Tracy Dickinson, was once homeless herself and has hopes to be sponsored by businesses so that she can run the kitchen full-time.
The street kitchen was established in October 2016 when Tracy and her friend Andrew took a backpack full of sandwiches, crisps and and flasks to the city centre to hand out to the homeless.
They would feed 10-20 people a week, until word got round, and more and more people started to turn up.
Tracy, who lived on the streets when she was 14, prepares two hot meals in advance to take to Trinity Square every Friday evening.
She said: “When I was homeless, I would feel very vulnerable. It was hard- it’s that vulnerability and no one talking to you, and feeling really low.
“They just want that compassion and care from other people. No one should be hungry, no one should be out on the streets.”
Currently Tracy’s Street Kitchen receives donations of food and water from Tesco’s in Radcliffe-On-Trent and Maid Marian Way, Gregg’s, Nottingham Trent University, and Son of Steak.
But Tracy would like businesses to sponsor her a wage so that she can focus full-time on her business.
She said: “That’s my ultimate aim- to be doing this full time.”
“I put such a lot of time into this. My house is like a warehouse at the moment; there are boxes of things to hand out everywhere.
“We need someone who’s going to invest in us and support us, and see the good we do.”
Tracy now lives in Mansfield and is a fully qualified teacher, after taking herself through university and obtaining two degrees and a Masters.
But she says there are still low days where she feels an urge to return to the streets, especially now, while she is currently between jobs.
She said: “Of course there are difficult times, and it makes me more motivated to help in any way I can.
“The guys are my family. I do miss them; I’ve known a few of them for quite a while.
“A lady came up to me a couple of weeks ago and asked me how I was doing, and I realised I used to know her from when we were both living on the streets.
“She was dressed really well and had found herself a job; that was lovely to see.”
Last Friday (January 26) was a special occasion for the Street Kitchen, as some men from a local barbers, who didn’t want to be named, offered free hair cuts to the homeless.
More than 20 men, some of whom had shoulder-length hair, had their hair trimmed and styled into on-trend styles.
Tracy’s friend Andrew, who used to chat to her and give her food when she was homeless, said Tracy was “an inspiration to everyone”.
He said: “She always puts everybody before herself. I’m so proud of her, for what she’s done, and how she’s come out the other side.”
“It’s not just about the food and the drink; it’s making these guys feel wanted. It’s a safe zone.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Tracy’s Street Kitchen can visit the website here or call Tracy on 07977 013405.