Edinburgh restaurants join campaign to help feed the homeless

Diners eating out in restaurants, bars and cafes in the run-up to the festive season are being asked to pay for cookery classes for the homeless.

Thursday, 18th October 2018, 10:52 am
Updated Thursday, 18th October 2018, 10:57 am
Leith Depot is asking customers to donate £1 with their bill to go towards Street Smart an Edinburgh based homeless charity

The #50for50 campaign by the Scottish charity the Cyrenians is celebrating its 50th year by recruiting 50 establishments across Edinburgh to ask each table of customers to add a £1 donation to their bill.

Those taking part in the campaign, running during November and December in the city, include Café St Honoré, Leith Depot, Harvey Nichols and The Kitchen.

Money raised goes to the Good Food Programme’s eight-week cookery classes for the homeless, as well as year-round community meals for vulnerable people in Edinburgh and the Borders – at locations including the Hibs ground, Moredun and the cottage in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Last year’s campaign raised £10,000.

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Pete Mason, co-owner of Leith Depot, a bar-restaurant on Leith Walk, said the campaign had caught the imagination of staff and customers.

“Last year we put cards next to the menu explaining it and our customers were very positive about it. I’d encourage other restaurants to sign up, it’s no hassle and started a good bit of chat.”

James Mackenzie, manager of Café St Honoré on North West Thistle Street Lane in the New Town, whose menu features a number of dishes such as Cyrenians’ Farm pumpkin and barley risotto, Cyrenians farm organic apple and Calvados crème brûlé using produce grown at the Cyreanians’ farm in Kirknewton, West Lothian, said: “This campaign is a really bold mission statement. The great thing about the Cyrenians is that they’ve taken it upon themselves to affect a lot of people’s lives.

“No-one chooses to be homeless and we’ve always seen the campaign as a catch-all for helping people who’ve fallen out of society.”

Emma Veitch, funding and relationships developer at the Cyrenians, working with Streetsmart to launch the campaign, said: “Our aim is to prevent homelessness by tackling the root causes, including food poverty. Food is at the heart of what we do here, whether it’s through sharing a meal with someone who needs space to talk and get support, or through our food education classes at our Flavour and Haver Cook School.

“For less than the price of a coffee, you’ll be making a huge difference to our ability to deliver food through our FareShare network, create welcoming spaces, offer skills and social experiences through cooking and volunteering opportunities to those who most need it, all year round.”

Sue O’Neill-Berest, who runs the cookery school, said: “You cannot just stick someone in a house and leave them. Often people lose their tenancy because they are feeling isolated. Our classes provide skills and company.”

Sign up to Streetsmart by contacting [email protected]