Action Zones 

Brian Thorne is running a soup kitchen in Yarmouth every Saturday 

soup kitchen 2015‘People are really struggling’ - hungry and in need, more than 60 visit soup kitchen in Great Yarmouth every Saturday

Friday 1st May 2015

Liz Coates
Senior reporter
Eastern Daily Press and Great Yarmouth Mercury
01493 847959
Picture: James Bass

A free food lifeline in Great Yarmouth is getting longer still with the opening of a Saturday soup kitchen tomorrow

More and more people are relying on hearty meals being served up at The Pathway Cafe and Support Centre in Admiralty Road

The centre was set up a year ago by Brian Thorne, 70, who was involved with a similar project called The Bridge in Gorleston

But the more severe problems faced by a larger cross-section of people just a few miles away across the river have shocked the retired commercial manager and lay preacher

He said: “At the first sessions we had 19, then 24 and now we average 62 per session and it has been up to 84. We have a few families come but we have people who are homeless, marginalised, sofa surfers, as well as people with mental health issues, people who are struggling and have been sanctioned, as well as alcoholics and drug addicts”

“We do not just feed them but it is always good to start with food. We either help them ourselves or have people like Dial or AA who can see them in private and sort out benefit claims. I have been to court to speak for them because some cannot read or write”

Mr Thorne said around 80pc of those who came were from the immediate local area with some making their own way by bus

The centre has been offering three-course meals on a Wednesday and Friday. But with so many struggling to cope in dire circumstances Mr Thorne is expanding to offer soup and a roll on Saturdays

He said: “I had done a similar thing in Gorleston in St Mary Magdalen Church. When I moved to Yarmouth I kept bumping into clients who wanted help and support. In Gorleston we had two sets of clients - the needy and the elderly, but here you have people who are really struggling. For some it is one of the few places where they can get some social contact”

“It is good that we can help but it’s a sad indication that we have to. My dream would be that we could shut it down because then it wouldn’t be needed anymore. It is a constant battle to get funding”

Mr Thorne hailed the contribution of local churches and businesses with many local suppliers selling food at cost and donating any surplus

Now he is urgently appealing for donations of bread rolls and actively knocking on company doors for goods that may be coming up to their best before dates

Far from being a hidden problem, homelessness was there for all to see around Market Place, the park and under the piers, he said, adding: “You see people picking up cigarette butts so they can make a cigarette to smoke. You do not expect to see that in your home town”

The centre has 16 volunteers, half of whom were previously clients. The kitchen was donated by Sainsbury and the centre has one major commercial supporter in Nicholls Meats who donate £50 of meat a week. The centre served 6454 meals to 420 people in its first year

To find out more or to donate bread rolls contact Mr Thorne on 07858 792610