We're back today with our 2nd Helping Without Expectation feature.
As you hopefully already know our mission at Regal Gentleman is "to help without expectation & make some friends along the way." If you haven't read our first 1st Helping Without Expectation with Joshua Coombes, you can catch it here.
This special mention is for a truly inspiring gentleman, Mark Harvey of City Harvest.
Mark is helping to deliver 1000 meals a day to the homeless, as a part of a charity called City Harvest. City Harvest's mission is to allow the homeless to eat with dignity while building up their strength to get back on their feet.
Mark's was once homeless himself, and the strength it took to get back on his feet and make a positive change to so many other people is a true inspiration.
We were lucky enough to get to speak to Mark recently, and here's what he had to say -
Who are City Harvest?
You can think of City Harvest as the Ocado for surplus food for London. We work with retailers and manufacturers, such as Marks & Spencer, to deliver 5 tonnes per week to those who feed London’s hungry. Since we started 24 months ago, we have sustainably redistributed more than 230 tonnes of edible surplus food to community programs where food is served to the hungry and homeless. Chefs at the recipient charities prepared more than 550,000 meals with the food we delivered.
The value of the food we have delivered to date is £690,000. And with three vans now on the road, we will deliver food valued at £1.2 million in the next 12 months.
Part of our mission is to enable people to eat good food with dignity. We distribute food that nourishes both the body and the soul. Each person that is served food regains their dignity and starts to gain the strength needed to overcome hard times. We’re helping a lot of people!
What was the inspiration for choosing to do City Harvest for the Homeless?
10 years ago I was homeless and I slept on the streets from December to September.
Prior to this I was working as a TV cameraman for 15 years, got injured as a result of an accident and, long story short I lost my career.. my identity of who I was. I got very depressed and that’s how I became homeless. I didn’t have a clue where I was and lost 7 ½ stone in 9 months sleeping on the streets.
4 Years after I got off the streets, in 2010, I saw a news item about a charity called His Church, delivering clothes to the homeless and vulnerable in Tooting. I had already been aware of City Harvest in New York - I realised that I could do something like this, so I found someone with storage that could help. This led me to get in contact with Bruce Marquart (now Head of Community Outreach for City Harvest) who was then working at another charity, The Upper Room, who held a soup kitchen 5 days a week.
I suggested the concept to Bruce who liked the idea, so that's where it began. Bruce was managing the UR4 Driving course which offers ex-offenders a chance to get their driving license. The ex-offenders had to do 80 hours voluntary work to be on the course, so we now had volunteers and transport too.
"Eventually you’ll see where things have gone wrong and be able to reflect positively on things. It takes time to heal inside before you can move on."
What advice would you give someone who wants to take a difficult period in their life and use that to make a positive difference in the world?
Try and hang in there. Eventually you’ll see where things have gone wrong and be able to reflect positively on things. It takes time to heal inside before you can move on. Once you have security it makes it easier too. You need to be strong. It’s hard, but you need to be determined. Homelessness can be socially isolating so it takes time to re-adjust to everything.
How many meals per day are you now delivering to the homeless?
I estimate about 1,000 meals a day.
A massive thank you to Mark and the rest of the team at City Harvest, who are doing an amazing job. We appreciate your time and it's great to hear more about the amazing things you are doing!
We will be getting involved with City Harvest, helping them out as volunteers and the more gentlemen the better!
City Harvest are always looking for volunteers and donations, and they would love to hear from you.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. If you think there is someone who should be featured in our next Helping Without Expectation feature then get in touch with us on social media @RegalGentleman. Or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.