Andy’s story

4 April 2017

70% of long-term homeless people are seriously malnourished. The effects of this can be huge, including debilitating depression and ill health. At Emmaus Sheffield, a residential community for homeless people, FareShare food is helping to improve people’s nutrition. We visited the community and were shown around the kitchen by Andy. Andy moved to Emmaus when he became homeless and now puts his cooking skills to great use in the kitchen. He told us how FareShare food improves both the community’s diet and their well-being.

Formerly Homeless Andy chopping tomatoes at Emmaus Sheffield.

In the kitchen with Andy at Emmaus

11am and Andy is slicing tomatoes and mozzarella, which have just arrived in a food delivery from FareShare Yorkshire. Andy used to live in Italy so Italian dishes are his specialty. He’s making an Insalata Caprese for lunch and swears that he makes a mean lasagne.

Andy’s been at Emmaus Sheffield since 2013. He became homeless when ill health left him unable to work and a relationship break down led to him moving out of his home.  As he had lived abroad for a period he was unable to claim welfare.

Andy’s always been an experimenter when it comes to food and is a dab hand at transforming the FareShare delivery into tasty meals for his fellow companions. Using food saved from waste by FareShare means that Emmaus Sheffield can afford to serve nutritious meals seven days a week. This is particularly important as many of Emmaus’ 14 residents were affected by malnutrition when they arrived. Aged between 18 and 50, some residents have arrived from young people or ex-offender hostels, some are self-referred and some have been referred by the council.

Andy tells us “Our lives would be significantly shorter without the home cooked meals made with FareShare food every day. Life expectancy is low for homeless people, 40 to 50. That isn’t only about living in rough conditions, a lot of that is about the availability of food and the quality of that food. I’m sure every single person would agree it makes such a big difference to our lives.”

Rebuilding self-esteem

After lunch, Andy starts preparing beef joints for dinner. Spending time in the kitchen is, for him, about more than just cooking though. Emmaus believe that giving people a purpose is key to restoring their self-esteem.  All around the building, Emmaus residents are busy working on social enterprise projects or chores that contribute to the running of the community. This includes everything from furniture restoration to boat building to cooking. So as well as improving the community’s health and well-being, cooking for Andy builds his self-esteem.

“Cooking and volunteering gives companions self-respect and a sense of feeling useful. They are given trust where they haven’t had that before.”

Helen Fox, Emmaus Community Support Manager