Northampton chef who set up pay-in-advance homeless meal scheme thanks those who donated £200

Andy Newitt cooks Spanish omelettes, roast dinners, burgers and homemade soup to provide people who are on a low income with a hot and vitamin-rich dinner.
Andy Newitt cooks Spanish omelettes, roast dinners, burgers and homemade soup to provide people who are on a low income with a hot and vitamin-rich dinner.

Big-hearted Chron readers have digged deep and pledged £200 for a suspended homeless meal scheme in Northampton to feed those who cannot afford a hot dinner.

Andy Newitt, 48, of Kingsley set up the Relax and Unwind Cafe at the Doddridge Centre in St James two years ago before he launched a suspended meal scheme in September 2017.

He has been cooking at the Doddridge Centre for two years and helps many people who struggle to feed themselves.

He has been cooking at the Doddridge Centre for two years and helps many people who struggle to feed themselves.

As part of the scheme, customers who dine at the cafe can opt to pay in advance for a dinner for someone who might be homeless, or on very low income, which can be claimed later.

Since the Chronicle & Echo first published this story nine days ago - kind-hearted readers have pledged £200 to the scheme, which bosses say will feed 60 mouths.

Cook and boss Andy used to be head chef at Carlsberg. He said he has fed homeless people, at the cafe, who have not eaten for up to three days.

"They normally come in quite shy and we get them something to eat and drink, we get them to socialise and feel like valued members of the community,” he said.

The café has become a social hub for customers from all walks of life and has seen many people combat loneliness and make friends.

As well as providing a friendly face to chat with, the cafe can also direct people to the relevant associations and charities based at the centre to help to improve their quality of life.

Andy and his partner Sheryl, 43, are business partners. She said the cafe has become a real lifeline for many vulnerable people.

"We have a few elderly and lonely people that come in every day, and sometimes for a few hours at a time. Sometimes just to have a chat with Andy or other people who they have made friends with while at the cafe,” she said.

"They hate it when we're closed over holiday periods.

"A lot of carers bring in their clients who they support in the community who don't feel confident going to other high street cafes because of their needs."

On Fridays, the café hosts a board game get-together where residents, vulnerable people and their carers can go to have a chat - and every Christmas owners put on a carol concert for the community.

Diners can buy a meal for £3.50 and a drink for 70p every week from Monday to Friday between 8.30am to 3.30pm.

If you want to help feed those who are less fortunate please message Sheryl directly on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndyNewittUnwind/