Last December, SIFA Fireside had to discontinue serving breakfast, reducing the number of meals we served to homeless people by half. The news triggered great concern in the local community, resulting in an influx of financial donations as well as offers to provide and cook breakfast on a regular basis.
The biggest donation came from Wragge & Co Charitable Trust, who gave £5,000, following long term support from Wragge & Co’s Birmingham office. A resident of Acocks Green has given £1000, and the Worcester Warriors Rugby Club and the Sikh Midland Langar Seva Society have offered very generous help in kind.
SIFA Fireside CEO, Cath Gilliver, said:
“We have been completely overwhelmed by the response to the news that we had to stop serving breakfasts to the city’s homeless people. It was a really difficult decision for the charity but we simply couldn’t afford to serve breakfast and lunch; it costs a lot of money to open our doors and the current economic climate has, understandably, meant that people are giving less money to charity. The generosity of the city’s residents and businesses has been fantastic and we are delighted to announce that we will be re-introducing breakfasts from 17 February.”
In 2012/13, SIFA Fireside saw 2500 homeless clients attend the drop-in, which serves hot meals and gives them a chance to see medical staff, pick up clean clothes and sleeping bags, and turn their lives around.
“Halving the food provisions at the drop-in was one of the most challenging decisions we’ve ever had to make,” said Carole Fox, Operations Manager at SIFA Fireside.
“We consulted with our clients on which meal to drop, which, in itself, was a difficult conversation to have. We provide a vital lifeline for Birmingham’s homeless people, particularly over the winter months, and we rely on the support of local people and organisations in order to open our doors seven days a week. The response to the news has been fantastic, not just from the larger agencies, but also the people of Birmingham who have dug deep and donated money to SIFA Fireside. All of these people have now ensured that we can continue providing vital meals to people that need them.”
SIFA Fireside works with people who are homeless, affected by alcohol or otherwise socially excluded to improve their physical, social and mental wellbeing. The charity has gone through some challenging times of late, including a devastating flood in 2013; despite the damage they only closed their doors for one day and now have a brand new floor in place. Whilst Birmingham City Council funds salaries and some overheads, the charity relies on the kindness of the local community to fund its practical help, providing everything from food and sleeping bags to socks and toiletries.