A RESTAURANT owner in Warwickshire is cooking up a plan to help the homeless.
We Love Pizza, in Leamington, is supplying leftover food to Helping Hands Community Project soup kitchen, which provides hot food to hundreds of people a month.
Owner Jose Ribeiro was determined to work with the community despite his business facing its own challenges during the pandemic.
He was forced to close his restaurant throughout the second national lockdown and tier 3 restrictions, just weeks after first launching in September. He is now operating a takeaway and click and collect service.
He said: “I always knew I wanted to create a social enterprise so there is a charitable element to what we do as well. We want to use our food to impact positively on society and people’s lives so decided to work with a charity which can benefit from our surplus food at the end of each day.
“Since we moved in just a few weeks ago, we have been warmly welcomed by our new community and it is a pleasure to be able to already start to give something back. We sincerely hope that by supporting the fantastic work of this local charity we’re actively able to do that.
“My partner and I want to become positive members of the local community. We have that obligation to help people out that need us, especially right now.”
The soup kitchen was taken over by Helping Hands six years ago after originally being started by a Christian couple with a van outside Leamington Police station.
But since the pandemic hit, they have been providing takeaway meals from a van parked outside their Althorpe Street premises.
Spokeswoman Sue Verne said: “Before covid 19 we used to serve food inside the premises, unfortunately we have to serve outside at the moment on a takeaway basis. Only four people are allowed to serve in the kitchen at any one time in order for us to keep a safe distance.
“The pizza is a welcome treat and very much appreciated. We are so grateful for this vital support for the most vulnerable people in our area at this particularly challenging time.”
The soup kitchen van serves from Monday to Thursday 6.30pm to 7.30pm as well as offering a takeaway breakfast on Tuesdays – and even the occasional birthday cake – but will not be able to hold its popular annual Christmas party this year.
The charity also provides sleeping bags, quilts, clothing, footwear and toiletries as well as additional seasonal support such as warm water for hot water bottles and waterproofs in winter and sun cream in summer.
Visit www.helpinghandscharity.org.uk for more information.