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The art of loving thy neighbour

CHARITY AT HOME: Guests get fed at Saturday Soup Kitchen in Hackney

A DEDICATED Hackney community worker has praised the efforts of a group of artists who have paired up with the homeless to create a series of fundraising artworks.

Through the E8PLUS HACKNEY project, eight local artists and students from Central Saint Martin’s are paired with eight homeless people from Hackney Central, which has one of London’s highest homeless populations. Each pair will create artworks together, which will be auctioned off on May 9 to raise funds for a soup kitchen.

Jamaican-born Yvonne Aimey has been running the pop-up Saturday Soup Kitchen in Hackney for 10 years.

“The soup kitchen began as church project,” she told The Voice.  But when a change of leadership resulted in homeless people being turned away, Aimey took it upon herself to carry on the project.

The 57-year-old area manager for a training company, has attracted support from all over the community, receiving donations from local fruit and vegetable traders and a West Indian food shop.

Aimey, whose passion for helping the homeless was inspired by her brother’s battle with drug addiction and homelessness, says there has been a marked increase in demand for the service.

She said: “These people need help and we need premises where we can feed and clothe them and address some of their other needs.”

PROGRAMME

Graphic designer Luca Ponticelli, one of the artists working on the programme, said he hopes it will challenge stereotypes and open up a dialogue in the community about homelessness.


CARING: Yvonne Aimey

He said: “Hackney is known to have one of the highest rates of homelessness in the UK, and the numbers have doubled in the last two years.

“We want to create a dynamic in Hackney Central to help people recognise these people as equal residents of the area.”

One of the soup kitchen’s service users, who asked to remain anonymous, said it “saves people”. 

He added: “Yvonne’s chicken is the best in the East End.”

The beneficiary explained further that people come “mainly (for) food; but eventually (for) friendship.”

Aimey, a devoted Christian, said local people have encouraged her to run for office in Hackney, but her goal is just to contribute to the community.

She said: “There are times when I am the only one there to serve, but I keep going, because the community needs this.” 

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