Tracy Dickinson, with her sister Julie, and Andrew

Only 14 years of age, Tracy Dickinson was on the streets in conditions she described as “horrendous”. By necessity, Tracy would find herself occasionally stealing from people in order to survive, more than anything, she simply felt “vulnerable.”

Today she has self-started an independent charity Tracy’s Kitchen which can provide food other rare necessities to up to 200 of Nottingham’s most disadvantaged every week. As Christmas approaches, she is showing no signs of slowing down.

Luckily, Tracy was given a lifeline at that young age, as a close friend ended up taking her off the streets at 19 and giving her a job in her office.

However, many homeless people in Nottingham are not so lucky, with the city council reporting that around 635 people are homeless.

“there are a lot more homeless than the council say.”

Tracy Dickinson, Owner of Tracy’s Kitchen

There has been an increase every year in the amount of homeless, Tracy explains: “The homeless problem in Nottingham seems to be getting bigger and bigger, there are a lot more homeless than the council say.”

Every week Tracy and around 40 volunteers pull up to Trinity Square in Nottingham’s city centre, set up shop and immediately go to work.

Volunteers are spread around Nottingham to collect food from all over the city from establishments such as Mod Pizza and Nottingham Trent before collating it all together and preparing to feed up to 200 people in less than three hours.

This will be Tracy’s fourth Christmas, they have established a big purse of sleeping bags, blankets, hats, scarves, and socks, and they will be feeding a full Christmas dinner to the homeless population on Christmas day alongside a full shoebox or bag full of everything they need through the cold winter months.

Tracy expects a healthy amount of volunteers on Christmas Day as well. Ian Parker, a volunteer for Tracy’s kitchen explains: “I definitely feel like I get a lot of doing this, it’s nice to feel helpful, it’s good for me see how other people are doing in life, it gives me some perspective.”

With Christmas fast approaching many people would slow down, but Tracy who was presented with The Michael Varnam Award for her outstanding work in the community in 2017, is showing no signs of fatigue.

When asked what gives her energy she said “I see the guys as my family, they have human needs just like everyone else.”