Notts community pulls together to provide free food for city’s rough sleepers during pandemic – but there’s still work to do

Homelessness charity Emmanuel House Support Centre is helping to implement strategies to improve the organisation and distribution of Nottingham’s free food provision to people who are homeless, following the publication of a commissioned research project.

The study, which was commissioned by the charity and conducted by Nottingham Trent University, investigates food provision in Nottingham for those who are homeless or rough sleeping, with particular focus on supply during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 20th July 2021, the research findings were presented by Emmanuel House’s CEO Denis Tully to local food providers within the charitable and voluntary sector. The meeting followed the report’s recommendation for communication, organisation and collaboration between all Nottingham’s food providers.

Denis Tully, CEO at Emmanuel House, said: “The report shows that alongside the city’s homelessness preventative strategies, providing free food to rough sleepers can make an important contribution to ending homelessness, even if it doesn’t tackle its root causes.

“This research project has enabled us to gather perceptions about food provision around Nottingham from both the food providers and the people using the services. Although providers do a great job, there is currently no regularly updated timetable for when food is available in Nottingham that relates to frequent changing circumstances, which means that the people who need it often don’t know the times or location of where food is provided. The report also showed that some people had gone a significant amount of time without food. We’re urging providers to work together to continue providing access to free, nutritious food for some of Nottingham’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Covid-19 response

The report found that whilst some food providers were forced to close due to lack of resources during the Covid-19 pandemic, many new providers set up projects in direct response to the unprecedented crisis, with pop-up kitchens opening across the city.

Denis added: “The third sector is heavily relied upon in times of extreme crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has seen more people in need of these services, but also more people who are willing to donate, whether that’s time, money, or resources. The research shows that food providers can play an important role in helping people who are rough sleeping to engage with services, but that more support for providers would be helpful and that there is a need for the sharing of resources and good coordination of provision.”

Importance of nutritious food for vulnerable people


Emmanuel House is also encouraging food providers to ensure nutrition is of paramount importance when cooking for beneficiaries.

Denis added: “There is a clear demand for access to nutritional and substantial meals. Indeed the report found that some beneficiaries had highlighted a desire for more fruit and vegetables. Our experience of providing support for people who are homeless over the pandemic confirms our belief that the type of food provided can help beneficiaries improve their health and mental wellbeing.”

Hannah Buck, Lead Development Worker at Transforming Notts Together, said: “This report clearly shows the need to put time into creating a regularly updated and accessible food provision timetable for rough sleepers. It also demonstrates the benefits for beneficiaries, food providers and the community if we work together in a more strategic and coordinated way. At Transforming Notts Together, we are willing to apply for funding to help create and coordinate this. It is something that fits in well with our current work and experience and we are keen to work with all the food providers and other partners to make this happen.”

To read the report, visit the Emmanuel House website.

For more information about Emmanuel House Support Centre or to arrange interviews about the food provision report, please contact Rosie Needham-Smith on 0115 950 7140 or

Notes to editors – research methodology


The researchers created a database of around 60 providers, including those that have been running since before the pandemic, temporary pop ups and providers that had recently stopped providing. A mixed-methods approach enabled the researches to gather statistics on homelessness provisions. An online survey was sent to all food providers with public email addresses or contact forms, which was 35 in total, from which they received 19 responses. The researchers also interviewed a provider that had been working with other providers during the pandemic.

To gain an understanding of food from the beneficiaries’ perspective, a paper survey was posted under the doors of those staying at Emmanuel House’s Night Shelter, which was operating at a hotel, and to people not in the hotel via the outreach team at Emmanuel House. The survey was completed by 26 people, 25 male and one female.

Notes to editors – further information

Emmanuel House Support Centre is an independent charity that supports homeless, vulnerable and isolated adults in Nottingham. It provides diverse and accessible services that meet people’s basic needs including showers, laundry and a change of clothing. It works to empower individuals through support services, trained professionals and social activities. With no statutory funding for its core services, it relies on donations from the community.

Emmanuel House Support Centre
53-61 Goose Gate


Your email address will not be published.