Food Charity offers takeaways for the desperate poor who can’t afford the energy to cook


People’s Kitchen volunteers told how the number of meals served daily doubled from 150 to nearly 300 after lockdown. Many people now rely on the charity to support their families

A large queue outside People's Kitchen before it opens its doors
A large queue outside People’s Kitchen before it opens its doors

An inner-city food charity has started offering a take-away service to those in need due to an alarmingly rising demand.

Huge lines form every day outside the People’s Kitchen in Newcastle in scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Food banks and charities across the UK have warned of rising demand.

But donations have dwindled as millions grapple with the cost of living crisis.

Desperate dads show up in suits after work and ask for food packages.

Our stark picture of the hungry comes after Tory MP Lee Anderson said there was no “massive benefit” to food banks in this country – and suggested people should learn to cook.

Volunteer Tim Cantle-Jones, 61, from Newcastle


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

People’s Kitchen volunteers told how the number of meals served daily doubled from 150 to nearly 300 after lockdown.

When Der Spiegel visited, around 70 people were queuing outside for minced meat and dumplings, served with a hot drink and dessert.

With the impact of the pandemic and the huge rise in energy bills, many poor families are relying on take-away meals from the kitchen.

Volunteer Andy Cassidy, 56, from Gateshead, who like everyone else in the 200-strong team works for nothing, said: “We had a worker in a Morrison uniform who came in after a shift.

“We see low-income people who can’t afford to live.”

Joe Tudor, 42, who lives alone on Tyneside, began visiting him regularly after the deaths of both his parents as he struggled for welfare.

“I’m looking for work,” he said. “But I get a lot of support here with food and clothes.”

Volunteer Andy Cassidy, 56


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Newcastle University engineering professor Colin Herron, 65, from Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, has been awarded a CBE for his work in renewable energy.

He has been a volunteer for 12 years and has witnessed the huge increase in demand first hand.

He said: “There was nobody on the streets during the lockdown. The council put everyone in shelters, but the restaurants and hotels were closed.

“We set up a production line, we put out groceries every day, we made more than 1,000 deliveries to homes. I wrote down the addresses.

“We figured out that we could do some takeaway from here, but we had to tell them to leave immediately because they came to see other people.

“We’ve gone from a restaurant to a home delivery to a takeaway for two years and made sure we’re feeding people.”

Professor Colin Herron, 65, has been a volunteer for 12 years


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

When Tory MP Anderson proposed cooking classes for those in need, Colin added: “I know a man in his late 70s who only uses a microwave and he has found that it costs 5p to heat food for 10 minutes. People are at that level.”

John McCorry, chief executive of the Newcastle West End Food Bank, who starred in the film I, Daniel Blake, told how struggling families – including 14,500 children – were helped by her ministry with food parcels last year.

He said: “It’s becoming harder and harder to deny that people are finding their incomes being squeezed by more and more demands.

“The thing about government help with MoT fees – most of the people we help can’t afford a car.

“More people than ever before are at risk of being pushed into the poor class. Lee Anderson’s comments have not resonated with us.

People queue to receive their food at People’s Kitchen in Newcastle


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

“They are so far removed from the reality our customers face. You have to walk a mile in people’s shoes to understand these challenges.

“He doesn’t seem to understand what’s happening to people on so many levels.

“These comments are so unrealistic. Changes in Covid support and the loss of the £20 power boost have hit us hard.

“You have no choice in payments when you use a prepaid meter like the poorest people do.”

Our team of cost of living experts are here to help YOU through a very difficult year.

They bring you the latest money news and also offer expert advice.

Whether it’s skyrocketing utility bills, the cost of weekly groceries, or increased taxes, our team is always by your side.

Every Thursday at 13:00 they participate in a Facebook Live event to answer your questions and offer their advice. Visit watch. You can read more about our team of experts here.

If you have a question – or want to share your story – please email

Revd Dean Roberts, who runs the south Wales-based charity The Parish Trust, has seen queues “down the road” – including office workers in suits asking for help.

Some are brought to tears as they struggle to make ends meet. He has also seen a huge surge in people requesting food packages in his community for the first time.

He said. “We’re seeing more and more people from a broader cross-section of society asking for help.”

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