Post by Julianna
After a few months on furlough I returned to The Whitechapel Centre as their Corporate Fundraiser, raring to go and eager to speak to my colleagues about the amazing work they had been doing (and continue to do!). The name of one company kept cropping up – My Fresh Box. At the start of lockdown their founder, Alex Head, reached out to us and very kindly offered their support with a donation of 50 fresh, tasty, and healthy meals per week – that’s 2,600 meals in a year! We’ve had incredible feedback from our clients about how tasty the My Fresh Box meals are and so I was keen to speak to Alex and find out more about him, his fantastic business, and his motivation for reaching out:
Julianna: Tell us a bit about yourself/your background.
Alex: I’m Alex, the owner and founder of My Fresh Box. Before starting this up, I was a chef for 12 years up and down the country working in Michelin star, then Rosette restaurants. I then decided to open up MFB in 2018 following a similar role I was doing for a few friends of mine. I enjoy football, boxing, running and spending time with my family, nothing out of the ordinary really but keeping fit has definitely been a passion of mine.
Julianna: What made you start up My Fresh Box? Alex: I was quite ill in the summer of 2017, dropping weight down to just under 8 stone. I then started training with a PT who advised I got my nutrition on track (being a chef funnily enough hindered this due to the long and high demanding workload and long hours). I then saw my PT was using a meal prep company who weren’t really providing him with a very good quality of meals, so I just thought that I could do it for him, probably saving him money and giving him better dishes. So I started doing this for him and then a few of his fellow gym PTs also asked for some. This just sort of snowballed from there really, fast forward two years and we’re delivering to all over the UK and rapidly expanding month by month.
Julianna: Why did you choose to support The Whitechapel Centre?
Alex: Homelessness in Liverpool has always been something that troubles me, a few years back in a restaurant, myself and a few of the kitchen staff spent our night off preparing and cooking Christmas dinners for some of the rough sleepers in the city centre. Upon realising we were getting a bit of food waste in the kitchen at MFB, me and the staff decided to utilise it in a better way than eating it ourselves or simply throwing it out. We then got in touch with the guys down in The Whitechapel Centre and came up with a solution of 50 meals per week and it’s going great so far. It really does feel amazing to receive the feedback from the guys at the charity and hear about what a positive impact it’s having on the lives of some of those they help out.
Julianna: How are you partnering with The Whitechapel Centre?
Alex: We’re donating meals twice a week to them, as well as trying to raise some awareness with our social media posts and stories. Whilst chatting to the team, they mentioned donations have dropped this year due to Covid-19, and a lot of corporate events and fundraisers have been cancelled which unfortunately has really affected The Whitechapel Centre and their income. I’ve decided to raise money myself by running a full marathon with my little sister on the Saturday 24th October, I hope this will help to contribute towards what they need.
Julianna: Is this your first marathon? Why did you choose to do a marathon?
Alex: Yes, this is my first full marathon, although I ran the Liverpool half marathon a couple of years ago. I’ve always enjoyed running, and obviously a marathon is a massive task but I think pushing myself to that limit will hopefully make people aware of the commitment everyone involved with the charity puts in and encourage them to donate to this amazing cause.
Julianna: What will you be eating to fuel your training?
Alex: Luckily enough I own a meal prep company so mostly the meals from My Fresh Box, consisting of plenty of carbs for the first few weeks of training to keep my energy up, but then try and cut a bit of weight a few weeks beforehand so I’ll then follow a low calorie diet. I train in the gym three times a week and I am running two to three times a week, plus working seven days a week so I need plenty of energy. I really am quite lucky in the sense that I have access to high quality food, and I know for a fact that the meals I’ll be having are brilliant, and not just processed food you get with a lot of other meal prep companies.
Julianna: How can people help?
Alex: At the moment, donating to the page and sharing it across your social channels would be a great help. Closer to the time we’ll probably be looking for some volunteers to hand out water and food gels to us whilst were running and give us plenty of support on our route. We’re hoping to set up a big finish line at The Whitechapel Centre so any support is greatly appreciated. However, this isn’t just a one-time thing and any support for the charity in the long run would be brilliant and greatly appreciated.
To support Alex with his marathon fundraising efforts, please visit, share and donate: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alex-head5
For more information on My Fresh Box and their delightfully tasty, healthy meals, check out their website: https://www.my-fresh-box.co.uk/
Changes to our services & information on how you can help
Now, more than ever, people who are homeless need our help.
The Whitechapel Centre remains open during the outbreak of COVID–19 to ensure that people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, can get into accommodation and be supported to remain healthy. As other services across the country have had to close, we have worked to adapt our services so that we can stay open and meet the needs of people who need it most.
Labre House night shelter and our Day Centre Services at Langsdale Street have changed and have moved. We have worked tirelessly to move all rough sleepers into appropriate, self-contained accommodation. Staff from Labre House and the Enablement Centre are now based at the new venue, providing on-site support 24/7 to ensure our clients can sustain the accommodation and receive the services they need to remain healthy. This means we have moved all food, advice and related services into the new accommodation provision – delivering services at the new point of need and keeping people safe and well.
From today, Thursday 2nd April, both Labre House and Langsdale Street day centre buildings will be closed.
With significant changes to services we have recognised that there is a need to ensure a coordinated access route into accommodation for new people who find themselves homeless from now on. Any Liverpool resident who becomes homeless will be able to access services via the Liverpool City Council’s Housing Options Service by calling 0151 233 3800 (Freephone 0800 731 6844) or online via: https://liverpool.gov.uk/housing/homeless-or-at-risk/housing-options-referral/ Click here to download an update from Liverpool City Council
Our outreach and other services for rough sleepers remain operating as normal. If you are concerned about someone who is sleeping rough please contact us on 0300 123 2041 (24 hours, low cost from a mobile).
All of our supported accommodation-based services remain open as normal for clients but non-essential visits are not allowed.
If you are concerned about your housing situation or are at risk of homelessness you can contact us for advice, Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm by calling 0151 207 7617 or online chat here on our website homepage.
Sadly, we have had to cancel many fundraising events, including the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout in May. Our charity shops are also closed and unable to receive donations. As demand for our services increases, our fundraising and donations are decreasing.
If you can, please support us - your money will help provide essential items for clients, ensuring they can stay indoors and keep safe.
More than 60 rough sleepers and homeless people have been moved out of Liverpool City Council’s Labre House night hub to alternative accommodation due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Whitechapel Centre staff from across the project worked throughout the weekend to ensure that the majority of people currently using the Camden Street shelter were helped to relocate into more appropriate accommodation.
The team also prepared food parcels for everyone leaving Labre House over the weekend to ensure they had something to eat when they entered their new accommodation.
Labre House can accommodate up to 90 rough sleepers per night but its communal meeting and sleeping areas now make it unsuitable for use during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The council and its partners have been offered the use of more than 100 single occupancy aparthotels and 50 more for family groups across the city during the crisis. Those who remain at Labre House are service-users who require more complex support packages, which means aparthotel accommodation would be unsuitable. Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to sleep rough has fallen drastically, with just three people seen sleeping on the streets on Sunday night.
Outreach workers from The Whitechapel Centre are continuing their regular city centre rounds, speaking to those who remain outside and encouraging them to accept help. The drive to relocate all the service-users from Labre House will continue at a pace this week. But workers say that some service-users, even those who have been found accommodation, may still be coming out onto the streets of Liverpool to beg.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “Liverpool has moved quickly to support its vulnerable, homeless and rough sleeping community during this difficult time.
“We have been overwhelmed by the offers of support we have received from the city’s hotel sector and we still have offers coming in. It illustrates how the people of this city are more than willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in most need of help.”
“The challenge for us now is to accommodate those people with complex needs, which we are hoping to do through our existing network of temporary accommodation.”
Cllr Hinnigan added: “Whilst we have seen a decrease in the number of people sleeping rough as more accept the support that is being offered, there are still some who are refusing our help and those who come onto the streets to beg.
“However, we will continue to work with them to ensure that everyone has the support they need.”
Whitechapel Centre Chief Executive David Carter said: “Our staff and volunteers have been amazing. They worked tirelessly over the weekend to settle people into their new accommodation and make sure they have everything they need, including toiletries, food and essentials. But this is just the start, our team will be on site 24 hours a day to provide intensive support to enable to people to stay indoors and stay safe. We will also be supporting clients throughout the city who are self-isolating with regular welfare calls and distributing regular food parcels.”
• If people have concerns about someone sleeping rough on the streets of Liverpool, they can call the Always Room Inside helpline: 0300 123 2041.
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