HUGE congratulations to Not Just Soup for winning the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of its selfless help for Manchester’s homeless.
Since its inception in 2015 this collaboration between the city’s restaurants and volunteers has served over 42,000 meals to those out on the streets.
“We’re absolutely buzzing,” said co-founder Sam Jones of Tunafish Media, who organises the day-to-day running. “When I told the volunteers and the restaurants they were all dead happy to know that their hard work has been recognised.”
Not Just Soup was started by Solita owner Franco Sotgiu in response to those sleeping rough and begging for food around his Northern Quarter restaurant. Each Tuesday in Piccadilly Gardens he and friends would cook food from Solita for them.
It’s now a twice weekly service in conjunction with Oldham Street based rough sleepers charity Coffee4Craig, with a rota of restaurants serving meals for up to 120 people each Monday and Tuesday indoors at their Centrepoint hub.
City centre restaurants that have taken part included Hawksmoor, Gusto, Trafford College, Scene Indian Kitchen, Living Ventures Group and Beastro. Currently there are 13 restaurants on the rota. And, of course, as the scheme's title, spells out, the menu is much more varied than simple soup.
The Queens Awards for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. The recipients are announced every year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.