Lincolnshire café helping homeless people is “under pressure”

A Lincolnshire café providing free lunches for homeless people has said it has felt “under pressure” in recent months.

Elizabeth Holland has been at the church since 2004. Photo: Oliver Pridmore.

The community service has been running for over ten years in Boston, based in the town’s Centenary Methodist Church.

Every Wednesday, around 50 homeless people are offered a free two-course meal and a drink from mid-day until 1pm, with the food they eat subsidized by paying customers who also use the café.

Elizabeth Holland has been the catering coordinator at the church since 2004, and explained the nature of the pressures they face.

She told LSJ News: “Of course if we don’t get paying people in then we get less in terms of donations, and it then falls back on to the church to provide.”

Due to this pressure, the café has had to limit the window of time in which people can claim a free meal, with those arriving after 12.30 now no longer receiving the offer.

But Mrs Holland also stressed that it wasn’t just the food that was important to the homeless people.

She said: “It’s not necessarily the food that’s important, because I do feel that Boston is very generous and there aren’t many places that they can’t go.

“It’s the fellowship with one another that they need. They can be themselves and they know that we care about them, we don’t judge them, and I think that if it finished – I really don’t know where they would go.

Reverend Val Ogden says more volunteers would help. Photo: Oliver Pridmore.

“You can’t just wash your hands of people. They need to know that they’ve got continued support.
You can hear the banter between them – they’re happy, they’re well fed, they know that we care for them.”

Another figure behind the service is Reverend Val Ogden, who has been at the church for around 6 months, and says that there could be future pressures due to a lack of volunteers.

She said: “It would be good if people were kind enough to donate items of food, we run a very creative kitchen so if we’ve got donations we can work with those.

“But also it’s about the human resource element. Often in a church, the volunteers are not getting any younger.

“That’s not an ageist comment it’s just the reality so we would love other people to volunteer and to be raised up with a heart for that work.”