Edinburgh homeless charity Steps to Hope has 'disappointing start' to the year, after catering van vandalised overnight
A charity catering van that provides food to thousands of homeless people was sprayed with graffiti overnight in Edinburgh.
The van is owned by Steps to Hope SCIO, a non-profit charity, which provides aid to Edinburgh’s homeless, as well as to those struggling with addiction.
Richard Roncero, the founder of Steps to Hope, said the vandalism was “very disappointing”.
After serving food on New Years Eve, Roncero woke up on the morning of January 1 and found the van had been sprayed with graffiti. He has reported the incident to the police.
Roncero said: “Looking at what was written, it doesn’t look like a personal thing. It just looks like some mindless person has just seen a van and graffitied it”.
The charity purchased the van in March 2020, just before the first national lockdown – which forced many soup kitchens to close down.
The van, however, was able to stay open. The charity went from serving homeless people on the streets two nights a week, to every single night – to help make sure homeless people in Edinburgh were being fed.
Roncero said: "During the pandemic, we were out there on the front-line. We fed thousands and thousands of people”.
“That vehicle has been a lifesaver, so for someone to just come along and do that is just really disheartening”.
However, while Roncero said that he was “really upset" when he saw the van this morning, he added: “that very quickly turned to gratitude, because the van can still go out today”.
"We’re operating right now and serving people food, and I’m grateful for that”.
He thanked the local community, and said he has been inundated with messages of support and offers to come out and help clean the van.
The charity has also received an influx of donations from people who read about the incident on Facebook.
One East Lothian business, Gleam Machine Mobile Car Valeting, even offered to clean the car free of charge.
Following the response from the local community, Roncero said: "I’m filled with faith in humanity again”.
"We’ve got a special group with Steps to Hope, so when something like this happens, everyone just rolls their sleeves up and comes out in numbers”.