A family business in Rugby has decided to do its bit to help the homeless with a pay-it-forward meal scheme.
Michelle and Tony Edkins opened Treacles Lunch Bar in Sheep Street in 2013 and went on to launch a second business, Treacles Kitchen in February 2016, across the road.
It was not until Michelle found herself walking to work at the crack of dawn she realised the extent of the homeless situation in the town.
She said: “When we opened I was walking in the town in the early parts of the morning. I think I was blinded because it is all swept away when the sun comes up but when you are walking through the town when it is still dark, you see some poor soul had to go through my bins or see the shop’s doorway across from us is housing three people.
“It frightens me how many people find themselves in that situation. There are agencies out there doing great work but they can’t catch everybody and we are open in the day and in the right place and so we wanted to fill the daytime gap.”
Wanting to do their part the couple researched the idea of a pay-it-forward scheme.
She said: “The pay-it-forward scheme is an initiative in America and in most towns and cities there is some form of pay-back. I did quite a lot of research before we started the scheme in the hopes that if there were more locally we could all team up but there didn’t seem to be anybody else implementing it so I think we are the only one with this initiative at the moment.”
Wanting to help those who find themselves homeless or in vulnerable situations, Michelle launched the scheme at the lunch bar, where customers could donate money towards a hot meal.
“During the daytime there is nowhere for these people to be or go to and I hope to fill that gap with the generosity of our customers.”
Anyone who finds themselves homeless or in a vulnerable situation can pop to the lunch bar and get a soup and sandwich meal or a jacket potato meal.
The team began promoting the scheme on social media two weeks ago and officially launched it last week.
In just a week the cafe’s generous customers have donated enough to pay for more than 40 hot meals.
She said: “We have had lots of donations in our jar so it has been a success already. We are only running the hot meals out of the lunch bar but we are hoping to eventually run it with the two stores but people can still donate at the cafe.”
“We are absolutely overwhelmed by the good grace and absolute generosity of our customers. We have always known that we had the best customers.”
So far the cafe has had a few people in need come in an claim the meals but Michelle wants to encourage more people to pop and get a meal.
“Some people have come in after seeing the poster in the window but it can be intimidating for people to come in and say ‘have you got’ can be daunting for anyone but everything is done is such a friendly manner. We understand whatever your situation having self respect is a good thing and that some people fear asking for that help but the meals are here for your taking.”
A spokesperson from Hope 4, a centre that the homeless and people in need in Rugby, said: “We think the pay-it-forward scheme at Treacles is wonderful and it is a fantastic idea and it can really benefit some of the people here.”