Volunteers help serve up breakfast to city homeless at Whitechapel Mission
by Julia Gregory pictures by Olivia Harris EVERY day of the year the Whitechapel Mission offers a hot breakfast and a warm welcome to some of the city s rough sleepers. F
EVERY day of the year the Whitechapel Mission offers a hot breakfast and a warm welcome to some of the city's rough sleepers.
Founded in 1876 charity is based in Whitechapel Road and also provides advice and a clothing store to help kit out some of the city's poorest residents.
It also offers overnight accommodation when the temperature drops below zero.
And volunteers come in to the centre at the crack of dawn to help cook up a breakfast fit for a prince.
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Staff from Bank NY Mellon have been involved for the last year after financial services expert Rob Lockhart overheard a train conversation about volunteering with the homeless. He is involved with the firm's volunteering scheme and decided to find out more.
"We have a regular turn and it's much more than cooking breakfast."
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Volunteers arrive at 5.45am and have to get up very early to be on time but as Rob who rises at 3am to get there said: "We're lucky that we can go home and sleep in our own bed at night."
And he said the number of volunteers at his firm which has offices in Canada Square and in the City have gone up 15 per cent over the last years.
Doors open at 6am and guests have a chance to pick up essential toiletries including soap, shampoo, razors and shaving foam.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 10am and then the volunteers help clean up the dining room and kitchen.
Rob said: "This year we've done 17 or 18 days and next year we have 30 in the calendar. It has mushroomed. We can feed anything from 220 to 250 people a day. The quietest was probably 120 to 140 people."
Volunteers also offer help with life skills to the mission's guests.
The majority of people who use the mission are men, but there are women only lunches on Fridays.
Tony Miller from the Whitechapel Mission is keen to sign up more groups or companies to get involved.
Rob urged others to think about helping. He said: "There are so many ways of putting something back into society and this is donating time and donating energy."
*The mission also has a wish list of clothes, toiletries, food and other donations on www.whitechapel.org.uk