PEOPLE in Ealing are being asked to think of the homeless as the rest of the country locks down against the coronavirus threat.

Ealing Soup Kitchen has run since 1973, operating primarily in St John's Church, Mattock Lane, West Ealing.

Manager Andrew Macleay said: “We are funded primarily by the public and, since the COVID-19 virus hit, we have been forced to reduce our services to solely takeaway food, to make sure all our guests and volunteer workforce are safe.

“My largest concerns are that many of our guests are homeless and unable to get shelter.

“They will not be able to self -isolate anywhere, which in effect signs a death warrant for many of them as, being on the streets, so many of them already develop serious health conditions.

“We want to protect as many as possible, but it's obviously not easy as many of my volunteer workforce are also self-isolating.”

Four days a week, Ealing Soup Kitchen provides not just food but also haircuts, showers, clothes, practical items, such as sleeping bags, tents and backpacks, as well as mobile phones, phone credit and Oyster cards.

Advice is also given on housing, council help and benefits support.

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Mr Macleay would like Ealing Council to provide more help.

He continued: “I am the only paid employee and I’m responsible for the day-to-day running of the soup kitchen. I used to be homeless back in 2008 and I really do understand the plight of many of those we serve daily.”

He has provided the Ealing Times with photos of some of their guests, which we have used here. All those pictured have given their approval before publication.

Mr Macleay explained: “I wanted people to see their faces, to understand they are human, too, and need shelter and care just as much as everyone else.

“I wanted people to see they are just like you and I. During this time, they struggle to survive and just want an opportunity to live. If they have nowhere to self-isolate, many will be denied a future.

“Many of these faces have skills and talents. Some can sing and play guitar. Others are great orators. Others university-educated. Some held high-paying professional jobs. Some have been homeless for a while and others only recently.

“Either way, it doesn't make them any less human and doesn't mean they have any less rights than you or I.”

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