FEATURE: Helping the homeless in Ripon

New Life Church soup kitchen volunteers front, from left, Leisel Hamnet, Ann Lowery and Mandy Royle with back, from left, Ruth Botha, Michael Lowery, Dawn Bakes, Luisa Wox and Tony Petrie.  (131114M1a)
New Life Church soup kitchen volunteers front, from left, Leisel Hamnet, Ann Lowery and Mandy Royle with back, from left, Ruth Botha, Michael Lowery, Dawn Bakes, Luisa Wox and Tony Petrie. (131114M1a)
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The Gazette takes a look at how the city’s New Life Church is helping the homeless in Ripon and running activities for young people

“It started off with just a few people coming but now some Thursdays we are feeding up to 60 to 70 homeless people,” says Ruth Botha, who volunteers at New Life Church Ripon’s soup kitchen.

The soup kitchen began at the church on Water Skellgate two years ago when it was set up by fellow volunteer Ann Lowery.

“She is 72-years-old and cooks all the food from scratch. It’s because of her the soup kitchen runs,” says Ruth.

All the food that is cooked is bought with money that is donated to the church, which is raised mainly on Sundays

“If any people or businesses want to make donations to the soup kitchen it would be greatly appreciated,” says Ruth.

“We provide a three-course meal – soup to start, a main course and always a lovely dessert cooked by Ann.”

Ruth moves on to discuss the people who use the soup kitchen.

“The majority of these people are sleeping rough – but some people just can’t afford to eat,” she says. “It is quite scary to think how many people are sleeping rough in this cold weather all over Ripon and Harrogate.

“A lot of the homeless people are battling alcohol and drug problems. Many have been helped by the church to turn their lives around.”

In addition to the soup kitchen, church volunteers also run a youth club project on Friday evenings.

Ruth said: “The club is called DNA. It is to help get youngsters off the streets and out of trouble. We also give them hot food.

“DNA is fully appreciated by the local police as it helps them too as the kids have somewhere to go on a Friday night.”

The soup kitchen is held at New Life Church Ripon every Thursday, from 10am-1pm. The DNA youth club runs Fridays, from 7.30-9.30pm, free admission.

For more information about the church or making a donation to the soup kitchen email info@newliferipon.org.uk