Whilst chatting with a client about a recent charity bike ride I’d completed, she mentioned how she, and some her colleagues, were involved on a regular basis with a local charity for homeless and vulnerable people in the Merseyside area.

Teardrops – supporting the homeless and vulnerable

The charity is called Teardrops and they offer a Night Café, 4 nights a week along with various educational workshops at their hub in St Helens. They also deliver talks and seminars on and off-site, all tailored to suit each individual groups needs. The workshops are built around prevention as well as tackling the stigma and barriers associated with homelessness.

They also offer cooking on a budget skills sessions. I knew we could help organise chefs from BM to deliver these sessions. So contacted Teardrops and offered to help with cooking at their hub along with delivering cooking skills sessions. A few weeks later I received an email asking if we could help with the busy Christmas dinner preparation, for up to 120 people. I jumped at the chance, with our Chef Manager Alan, who lives locally to the charity hub.

Support you can trust

On the 20th December, I drove to St Helens. I was a bit nervous as I had no idea what to expect. After being buzzed in and welcomed by a host of friendly faces, I was quickly pointed to the kitchen. Alan was already in full flow with the resident volunteer chef Phil. They had everything completely under control, apart from dessert, as they hadn’t had any donated that day. I jumped back in my car and looked locally for Christmas puddings. I brought them and headed back to the Hub.

Chef whites at the ready

Having put on my chef whites, Phil tasked me to make 120 Yorkshire Puddings! I quickly started to make the batter and then began to worry they might not rise in the oven, that would be a disaster! Anyway, I poured the first 12 mixtures into the baking tin and placed it in the oven and crossed my fingers!!

Nick, the Hub Manager, was very appreciative of the help as it was one of their most popular evening meals and he was expecting to be busy. By then it was time to get the next batch of Yorkshires in the oven and I was starting to relax and have fun, chatting with the other volunteers, whilst working. I was asked to make the custard to go with the Christmas pudding, which I admit, I had to resort to the internet for quantities of egg yolks and milk!

Christmas Dinner

7pm came around very quickly and we were ready for service.  It felt like any other restaurant service I’ve completed over the last 30 years. I still felt nervous wondering what the next couple of hours had in store.

People started to arrive for dinner in small groups, chatting and laughing. Dinner was very well received, with lots of thumbs up gestures, dessert quickly followed. I was asked to join in with the bingo, which I happily accepted, as it gave me a few minutes to chat with the people on my table. I declined the karaoke, for everyone’s sake, and went back to the kitchen to help wash up.

Opened My Eyes

This opportunity has opened my eyes to how our homeless problem relies on volunteers, charitable events and lottery funding. Government funding doesn’t fully address the many complicated and deep rooted issues people find themselves in. Potentially leaving them homeless or vulnerable.

It has certainly left me with a sense of wanting to do more to support Teardrops. I will leave Alan to help out in St Helens and I will find a charity closer I can properly help on a regular basis.

I work in an industry which is perfectly placed to help these charities and often does. An industry that has allowed me to travel the world, whilst giving and affording me so much in life. I now want to give back and help in any small way I am able.

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