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VIDEO: Meet the Dundee soup kitchen volunteers helping out on Christmas Day, and all year round

On Christmas Day, volunteers for a Dundee soup kitchen will be dishing out food and company to those who need it most.

Every Saturday, Graham’s Kitchen can be found in the forecourt of Auto Windscreens on Dundee’s West Marketgait.

And volunteer Greville Ramsay says that Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are no exception for the outdoor service which runs on Saturday evenings.

He explains: “Although we don’t anticipate large numbers of guests coming along on Christmas Day we will still run Graham’s Kitchen that evening and on January 1, as they both fall on a Saturday.”

What is Graham’s Kitchen?

Graham’s Kitchen was originally founded by Dundee man Graham Livingstone and for the last 12 years has offered hot food, drinks and a listening ear to those in need between 7.30pm until 9pm.

It is the only help available in the city on a Saturday night, and volunteers can feed up to 45 people every week.

Volunteers Josh Raybold and Matthew Swinley get the food ready.

In October, Graham’s Kitchen appealed for volunteers in The Courier following an increase in service users after the loss of volunteers during lockdown.

Greville explained: “The article had a fantastic response and we had many expressions of interest with just under 30 volunteers now helping out and people continuing to get in touch.

“We have been able to go from two very small teams up to five teams, which is great.”

Teams are made up of people who want to help, from business owners to students. The soup kitchen is completely self-funded and also receives donations.

Someone to chat to

Greville went on: “For Christmas, we will probably be making something like mince and tatties or a turkey casserole. The way we serve, it comes out of a thermal container.

“A lot of people who turn up don’t have many teeth, so it can’t be something they have to chew.

From left: Volunteers Josh Raybold, Grant McCowan, Greville Ramsay, Lindsey McCowan and Matthew Swinley prepare the food.

“From the Graham’s Kitchen point of view, it’s all about making sure people have got something to eat and someone to chat to.”

Any leftover food is taken to a local hostel the following day, so nothing goes to waste.

Greville said some people don’t wish to be reminded of Christmas because it may trigger difficult memories or feelings.

However, the soup kitchen normally hands out small parcels to spread cheer. And this year, two kind-hearted Fife nurses have donated gift bags.

Treated with respect

Greville explained: “Lynn Lessels and Laura Hunter who work for NHS Fife heard about the soup kitchen from a colleague and decided to make up Christmas presents for as many guests as possible.

“The presents include toiletries as well as biscuits, socks and gloves. This is a fantastic effort. Especially as they both work in hospitals that have been extremely busy over the last month or so.”

Lindsey McCowan and the other volunteers get everything together.

Many people who use the service can be in a desperate place. Some may be dealing with addiction or mental health issues.

Greville added: “The food is important – it’s very important. But the most important thing is the company and being treated with a bit of respect.”

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