WETHERSPOON customers, who have been enjoying free food paid for by strangers thanks to a game on social media, are now helping society’s most vulnerable.
Father-of-two Chris Illman set up a Facebook group to allow users to send each other food and drinks using the table delivery service on the pub’s app.
Now with nearly 7,000 members, Chris is using the group to feed the homeless during monthly dedicated nights.
The 38-year-old from Fareham said: ‘The group has got so popular and we have a lot of fun with it but I wanted to use it to help people and spread positivity.
Chris wanted to pay forward kind deeds shown to him when he was left homeless himself just after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
He said: ‘I split with my wife and had to sleep in my car. Then I was diagnosed with cancer and I thought “I really have hit rock bottom”.
‘I had an operation to remove the cancer and then I went and slept on a wooden floor. It is not what you want after having that kind of operation.
‘Thankfully the council helped me out and got me sorted in a bedsit and now I am on the up but what I experienced is nothing like what these people go through, having to live on the streets every night.’
Chris has so far organised homeless feeds in Salisbury and Southampton.
He said: ‘People have been so generous. In Salisbury we ended up with about £260 worth of food and in Southampton we got £418, so we are hoping that Portsmouth beats that total.
‘The reaction we have had from people on the group has been so positive and everyone joins in. It is also amazing when we give people the food just how thankful they are and they never want to take more than they can eat.’
Wetherspoon has laid on more staff for the evening in preparation.
Chris said: ‘It is amazing that they have got so behind us and have more people working to deal with the orders and takeaway boxes as well – in Southampton we cleared them out of pizzas.
‘We are also getting help from The LifeHouse to distribute the food and we are giving out sanitary products as well to help women on the streets.’
The Portsmouth homeless feed will be on Monday, June 3 from 7pm at the John Jacques pub on Fratton Road.
To join the group visit spoonsthegame.com