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Legal Action To Stop London Soup Kitchen Move

Lawyers Say Council Has Left Vulnerable People With No Choice As Organisers Bid To Avoid Closure


By Dave Grimshaw

Two users of the Christian soup kitchen at Mission Grove have issued court proceedings to seek a Judicial Review to stop Waltham Forest Council from evicting them to an out-of-town site they say is unsuitable and would lead to its closure.

The users of the soup kitchen, along with the Christian charity, have instructed specialist public lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have issued court papers to seek an urgent Judicial Review of the decision to revoke their licence and move them to a new venue just off the busy North Circular Road approximately 40-50 minutes out of town.

The Christian Kitchen, which features in the recent Ken Loach film “Spirit of 45”, had been threatened with closure from 22nd May but the Council has agreed to let them continue using the current site until the legal action is resolved.

The soup kitchen, a vital service for homeless and vulnerable people, has been run seven days a week for more than 25 years and currently provides between 50-100 hot meals per night but the volunteers from 30 churches across the region fear it would be forced to close if the move took place.

Alex Rook, a public law expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the charity and people who use the soup kitchen on a regular basis, said: “The soup kitchen is a vital charitable service for the homeless and vulnerable people in the area and the organisers and users of the service have been left with no choice but to take legal action to stop the move which they believe would lead to its closure.  As austerity bites and the demand for the soup kitchen rises, the last thing the vulnerable homeless people in this region need is to be asked to ‘move along’ to another part of the road network which is difficult for them to access.

“We believe that the council has not properly assessed the impact that the move would have on vulnerable people who simply don’t have enough money to eat properly or travel to a new out of town site. The Council when assessing the impact of the move has suggested that the users can get to the out of town site by bus, but if people had money for bus fares they wouldn’t need to use the kitchen in the first place.

“It has been suggested that the kitchen is responsible for anti-social behaviour but a Freedom of Information request proves that the Council has had no direct complaints about the soup kitchen in the last 12 months. Our clients and the Charities Trustees would welcome moves by the Police that directly address anti-social behaviour.

“There are serious concerns that many of the current users of the service simply won’t be able to get to the proposed new site and that this decision will force the closure of the soup kitchen.

“There is no doubt that the soup kitchen has been a valued service for 25 years and it is crucial to the people who visit the kitchen each night.”

Theresa Blake, a 55-year-old, is currently without a fixed address and has been using the kitchen every night for around the last 10 years.  The kitchen usually provides the only hot meal she has in the day, and she is extremely concerned that her health would suffer without the food she receives.

She said: “I suffer from arthritis in my legs and I can walk only short distances so I’m very concerned that if the kitchen was to move to somewhere out of town I just wouldn’t be able to walk there, and I can’t afford the bus fare.

“Some of the people I know who come to the soup kitchen are very old and vulnerable and would really struggle if it moved out of town to the site proposed by the Council.”

Alex added: “Our clients as well as the volunteers who run the service have told us that they would actually worry about safety if the kitchen was to move. It is presently in a well lit and relatively heavily populated area and there are worries that the proposed location would be much darker and remote and could be intimidating for a woman on her own or other vulnerable homeless people.”

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