For months throughout the first lockdown, we provided food to people who were vulnerably housed and in B&B accommodation. We delivered to many vulnerable people without knowing their faces. We met emergency needs via a phone number or a name, without ever meeting them personally. One of the few positives of the second lockdown was the chance to get to know the faces and stories of those people who before we only knew by name. It has been sad and difficult at times, but we draw joy and encouragement from being able help, to be relied upon as a source of hope for people in need.

Eric, a guest who had been on list throughout lockdown, continued to come along each day when we transitioned to a takeaway service, to get the emergency support that he so needed. We got to know him more each time as we do with so many of our regular guests. Eric, a quiet, humble gentleman who kept himself to himself, always turned up with a smile. One day he came to our takeaway service with an even bigger smile than usual. He turned to us and said, “I’ve got a place! I’ve finally got a place!” He was in B&Bs for around 6 months during the pandemic. He knew very few people in the local area and struggled with loneliness but now he finally had a place to call home.

The brilliant thing about Matthew’s House is that we have such a great team of volunteers, wonderful people with giving hearts. As we looked to support him as he moved into his little flat, we were able to help him with items of clothing and other bits and were immediately able to offer him a sofa so he had somewhere comfortable to sit. We hope to be able to help him even further as time goes by, helping him to stay in his new home. We continue to see him every day at takeaway; he joined us on Christmas Day too and was really moved to receive a gift from Santa along with his meal!

The beautiful thing in all this is that no matter what you give and how you give it, it all matters. Whether it’s providing encouragement, love and support for those in need or a simple smile, it really does matter. Eric, warm, safe and well fed in his new flat, would I’m sure, agree and feel that he matters to us!