Sid Reed from the Breadline project gave a brief talk. These are the notes that he gave me.
The Breakfast Project was opened by the CITPA (Churches Together in Penzance) in 1999 for the homeless. To start with, the project operated out of Penzance Salvation Army in their Queen Street Church. It opened 7 days a week between 7am and 9am. In 2008 we moved to Manna’s Diner and changed to 5 days a week Monday to Friday. We had a further move in 2011 when we moved the project to the Breadline premises in High street where we still are.
In the last few years we have changed the opening time of the project from 8am to 9am to be more in line with the opening times of the Breadline centre. We operate with a daily staff of 1 paid manager and 2 volunteers
We offer the clients a daily hot set menu of sausage, bacon, fried or scrambled egg, baked beans or tomatoes. We also offer as much toast as they want plus breakfast cereal.
We only serve genuine homeless clients. If someone presents themselves as homeless, we will give a client breakfast on that day but will need them to register with the breadline staff as homeless to access the project from day 2.
Numbers using the project on a daily basis varies from day to day, sometimes as little as 8 and as many as 15. Attendance depends on many things i.e. weather, time of year. Numbers tend to go up in the summer and down in winter when the night shelters are open.
At the start of the project we depended on voluntary contributions and grant aid. For a few years we obtained grant funding on a yearly basis from Cornwall Council. But at the onset of the local government funding crisis* we lost our grant. At present we are back to voluntary contributions and grant aid.
We operate the project with a paid manager and a core of volunteers of about 30. Anybody who wants to volunteer goes through DBS checks and an induction at the project site. New volunteers are always welcome!
In the subsequent discussion with panel members, Sid highlighted the significant amount of time lost in filling out grant applications for small amounts of money – time that could be better spent in serving clients more effectively.
Key policy proposal
At the end of his talk, there was a question and answer session. During this, Sid was asked what key policy change or proposal he would want to put to his MP or Cornwall Council. He said without hesitation “the restoration of grant money that was cut by Cornwall Council”.
This would free the project from time spent endless grant application forms and allow them to fully focus on client needs. It would also do away with the uncertainty, along with attendant anxiety as to whether the project had a future at all.
*Note: the local government funding crisis ties in with the global banking crash of 2008/9 and the subsequent bank bail out by the UK government. This in turn meant significantly reduced tax revenue available for public services and local government (i.e. the austerity policies of the last decade)