IT IS no secret that life out on the streets for a homeless person can be harsh.
The days are long and often lonely, and the one thing that keeps people going is the thought of somehow getting a hot meal.
That is something that the community group Don’t Hate, Donate, has helped bring to rough sleepers throughout Portsmouth.
Working in collaboration with homeless societies in the city, the group began delivering hot meals to rough sleepers every Saturday – a day where no alternative food was available.
It was this dedication to helping others that earned the group this year’s Best Art/Community Project Award.
Chantelle Burton, who collected the award for the group, said: ‘To hear that we had won one of the We Can Do It awards was great news for us.
‘It was really quite humbling, and we were grateful to even have been nominated.
‘The inspiration came from a similar sort of thing we saw happening in Birmingham; there were around 300 rough sleepers coming along and they all really looked forward to it.
‘We decided it would be a great idea to replicate that here in Portsmouth, and now here we are.’
According to Chantelle, when the group first started the scheme there was nothing else for rough sleepers on Saturdays.
She said: ‘I don’t know if that is still the case, but certainly to begin with this was the only thing they had to look forward to.
‘We made sure the rough sleepers in the city were told a couple of weeks in advance through the homeless charities in the area – I think their support really helped to lift the whole project off the ground.
‘They really do seem to look forward to it – at the end of the day, hot food when you’re in that scenario is incredibly valuable, so we are proud to be giving them a helping hand.’
Chantelle says that the group’s consistency has allowed the volunteers to connect with the rough sleepers in Portsmouth on a personal level.
She said: ‘The great thing about this is that it is a community event – and I think that’s what makes it so special. This being a community event really enables people that might otherwise be cut off from the rest of society to come together.
‘So along with the rough sleepers, we serve food to elderly people and those who are feeling vulnerable – is just helps to get them out for a bit.
‘Our volunteers have been fantastic – we haven’t missed a week, so come rain or shine we’re out on the streets.’