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Norwich street soup kitchen hits out at council plans to remove city centre market stall

PUBLISHED: 18:18 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:48 23 January 2018

People queuing for food at the larger stall on Hay Hill, which needs repairs according to Norwich City Council. Photo: People's Picnic

People queuing for food at the larger stall on Hay Hill, which needs repairs according to Norwich City Council. Photo: People's Picnic

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A soup kitchen which provides warm meals to vulnerable people in Norwich has hit out at plans to remove the market stall it uses.

The soup run on Hay Hill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich.; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY The soup run on Hay Hill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich.; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich City Council is proposing to “permanently remove” the stall on Hay Hill, off Haymarket, due to its age and condition.

The unit is currently used by four different organisations every night of the week to serve vulnerable people with food.

Lex Barber, a volunteer with The People’s Picnic, said its removal will leave volunteers and guests without shelter.

She said the organisation regularly feeds up to 80 people every Tuesday and Saturday evening.

The soup run on Hay Hill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY The soup run on Hay Hill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

“Not all of these people are homeless,” she said. “We are feeding families and a lot of elderly people at the moment.

“We already struggle to get enough volunteers, and so if we are asking people to do this in the rain, it’s only going to get worse.”

The council said it understood the stall’s removal “might cause difficulties” to some of the groups.

It said it will be donating tables in its place.

Karen Cully, founder of the People’s Picnic, said: “Do they think I am going to have 80 people crammed around tables?

“It’s not safe for the guests or my volunteers. The council is not giving us a chance.”

She accused the council of attempting to “social cleanse” the area, adding: “They have been treating the homeless community like rubbish for the past six months.

“This is a community that has as much right to come into the city centre as anyone else.

“For some of them this is the only social interaction they get, and not everyone can afford to cook for themselves.

The council did not say when the stall will be removed, but said the existing day-time trader is to leave at the end of January.

Meanwhile, the smaller stall at the front of Hay Hill is to remain in place.

However, the charities which use it during the day have been moved to a stall within the main market.

A council spokesman said: “Currently there are several organisations that use the two market stalls on Hay Hill to distribute food, when the stalls are not occupied in the evenings.

“We are not asking these organisations to move on, or to close their activities on Hay Hill.

“We understand the removal of the one stall might cause difficulties for some of the groups, so the council will be donating some tables to help them.”

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