Selfless teens feed the needy in Portsmouth

From left, Grace Smith, Amelia Whittingham, Sophie Meechan and Agnivesh Sathasivam, just some of the team that helped prepare and serve the mealsPicture: Keith Woodland (170420-003)
From left, Grace Smith, Amelia Whittingham, Sophie Meechan and Agnivesh Sathasivam, just some of the team that helped prepare and serve the mealsPicture: Keith Woodland (170420-003)

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NEEDY residents were left with full stomachs thanks to a soup kitchen for the area’s most vulnerable people.

Caring young people from Portsmouth’s National Citizen Service gave up their Saturday to feed the homeless and poor in Portsmouth.

The event, held at King’s Church, Playfair Road, in Somers Town was the first of its kind for the NCS in the city and was part of the organisation’s national social action day.

Teenaged graduates from the project’s most recent summer intake united with Portsmouth’s Food Cycle group to offer soup and packed lunch, for free.

Dozens of people attended the event. Among them was Phillip Pryer, of River Street, Somers Town.

The 55-year-old has been unemployed for several years following a stroke in 2012 and now struggles to make ends meet on his £73-a-week benefits income.

He said: ‘Days like today really are important. It means a lot to people who have very little.

‘It breaks up the monotony of my week. It gives me a chance to get out and to socialise with people.’

Speaking of the NCS volunteers, he added: ‘They have been brilliant. You really can’t fault them at all for what they have done today.’

Gale Baird is the programme co-ordinator at Food Cycle, which collects waste food from superstores across the area and gives it to the needy.

She said she had been inspired by the efforts of the NCS team and was delighted to support the soup kitchen.

She added: ‘These young people should be applauded. Every single one of them has got stuck in and helped today.

‘It’s taken them out of their own safety net and shows them what other people are experiencing.’

Chelsea Evans is the graduates co-ordinator at the city’s NCS wing.

She said the team had been working on the project since September and hailed the day a success.

‘We’re pretty happy at how it all went and we will be doing it again, bigger and better,’ she told The News.

The NCS – backed by Pompey in the Community – is hoping to recruit some 300 teenagers from across the Portsmouth area, aged 15 to 17, to join its next summer scheme, which will begin on June 19.

For more details, see ncsyes.co.uk.