Aug 21 2009 by Lizzie Struthers, Kilmarnock Standard
A HOMELESS charity in Kilmarnock is helping twice the number of people it did last year.
But Allies (Working with the Homeless) has little funding to run its drop-in centre based at the town’s YMCA building in Soulis Street.
The charity serves hot meals, offers healthcare and runs educational classes for men and women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Allies relies on donations and volunteers to keep up its good work.
The charity must find £10,500 a year in funding and donations to keep going.
Sandra Day, Allies manager, said: “We are always actively seeking funding. We rarely get cash. It is getting harder and harder.
“Our numbers have more than doubled in the last year. More and more people are finding out about us.”
She added: “Our meals will be the only thing some of our service users have to eat in a day. Some won’t eat during the weekend because we are closed.”
The charity is also a lifeline for many wanting to do their washing, see a nurse, get help filling in a form, learn to read, write, numeracy or how to use a computer and simply be in a warm, dry and friendly space.
Ann O’Brien, of Kilmarnock, has been coming to the centre for seven years.
The 44-year-old said: “It is like a big family here. You know it is a safe place to come to. If you have a problem, there is someone here to help.”
The charity which started 15 years ago as a weekly street-based soup kitchen has grown into a daily drop-in centre serving breakfast and dinner.
The YMCA’s kitchen has had a much-needed makeover with a one-off grant of £4953 from the Scottish Community Foundation.
The charity has enlisted the help of two volunteer chefs to serve up nutritious meals as well as run cookery classes for the centre users.
Chef Maggie Green, whose son Jamie, 20, also volunteers for the charity, is looking for donations of kitchen utensils for the cookery classes.
The charity currently has five volunteers.
Maggie, 39, said: “I think volunteering here is so worthwhile. I enjoy meeting all the different people.”
To find out more about the charity or to make a donation, visit the YMCA centre which is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm or phone 01563 559155.