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Soup Kitchen keeps it ReaL

12 Aug 2013

Soup Kitchen keeps it ReaL Image

By Sean Car

Local charity The Big Umbrella say it is not the action of providing a meal that inspires them to feed Melbourne’s marginalized communities.

While a hot pancake or bowl of homemade soup might sound satisfying on its own merits, the charity believes a meal, without the added side of respect, isn’t a meal at all.

Charity founder Justin Dickinson established the Flinders Street soup kitchen over two years ago on the premise of giving people a meal but more importantly their time of day.

Operating every Wednesday and Thursday, “A ReaL MeaL” soup kitchen has since served close to 10,000 hot meals to more than 200 people a night.

Director of “A ReaL MeaL” Michael Carlyon said the program was about building a community feel for volunteers and those they support.

“We differentiate ourselves from other food van services,” he said. “Spending that length of time, getting to know people, offering the conversation is what it’s about for us.”

“They have fallen in love with us and we have fallen in love with them, we always look to support them in every way possible.”

The Big Umbrella and “A ReaL MeaL” originally began in Nepal after Mr Dickinson spent three years volunteering and filming free documentaries for charities in third world countries.

While in Nepal he became exposed to some 6000 to 8000 children calling the streets of Kathmandu their home, which compelled him into action both at home and abroad.

Today, The Big Umbrella supports NGO’s and communities in Nepal and Vietnam on projects aimed at fighting hunger, homelessness, slave labour and human trafficking.

Partnerships with the Father Bob Maguire Foundation and Front Yard City Mission have seen “A ReaL MeaL” extend to youth outreach and education programs as well as skills training for the homeless community.

Mr Carlyon said the charity is determined to help eradicate the next generation of homelessness in Melbourne.

For more information on “A ReaL MeaL” visit www.thebigumbrella.org

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