Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.18 21 Jul 2021


Share this article


Some soup kitchens helping homeless people in Dublin have been told they may have to close for breaches of food safety regulations.

A number have recently been visited and inspected by the HSE's Environmental Health Service.

They have received letters informing them that they are breaching regulations.

Advertisement

It is estimated that there are around 15 to 20 of these soup runs operating throughout Dublin city offering food, clothes, toiletries and more.

Reporter Josh Crosbie for The Pat Kenny Show spoke to Denise Carroll from The Homeless Street Café.

"We're five years into this now and we've had no interaction before with any environmental health or HSE or anything.

"And on one of our recent visits to town, on a Tuesday night to set up our stand, we found inspectors waiting for us.

"They'd a number of questions they wanted to ask us and information that they needed from us.

"We complied, we had a chat - I was hoping that there would be a grey area that we would fall into, not being a charity, not being a food business.

"But unfortunately we did receive a letter to say that we were in breach of a number of regulations, and that they would be re-inspecting us, and may have to enforce closure".

Denise Carroll Denise Carroll from the Homeless Street Café. Picture by: Josh Crosbie

She says she understands the importance of hygiene and sanitation, and would welcome help from the HSE.

"That's not what's being offered - we're being enforced the same type of regulations that food businesses and profit-making businesses adhere to who have those resources.

"I don't want to have to tell people who come to me 'No, you can't help the homeless because you're not a registered HSE site'.

"We have a pensioner who comes to me and makes some sandwiches out of her pension: am I now to tell her that's not good enough anymore?"

"We're doing a job here that the Government is failing to do, if they want to do it absolutely off you go.

"If not, why don't you help us to do it? But at the very least just leave us alone to do it."

Glenda Harrington from Friends Helping Friends has had a similar experience.

She says two inspectors were waiting to inspect her van.

"They told me they would be able to shut me down if they deemed it necessary, but they weren't going to.

"They gave me a list of things that I needed to do, I needed to comply with, that they'd send it to me in letter form".

'I simply wanted to help people'

She says some of the measures in the letter are "undoable".

"They want us to have a fully-equipped working kitchen where all the stock is held and where the food will be prepared weekly.

"I prepare all the food in my kitchen myself, I get the meat from the local butchers - they want to know where it's stored, they want to know where it's kept.

"They want me to register with the HSE, which I wouldn't be over-happy to do.

"I didn't start this off to be a business or to be registered with anybody, I simply wanted to help people".

She also says they asked that all workers be HSE-trained, which she says she simply can't afford.

"There's 10 of us, two of my volunteers are in their 60s."

Glenda says she has another inspection next week.

"I think I've three months to complete the list, but they'll be back into me next Tuesday again to do another inspection, and they'll expect me to have most of it done.

"I'll probably maybe have three or four things ticked off the list, the easy things, but the rest are just not dobale for us at the moment".

And she says she understands the need for standards, but that authorities should be helping them acheive this.

"I totally understand that people have to be kept safe, but I just find it very unfair.

"In our eyes and in our minds we're doing the job of the Government, we're doing the job of the HSE sometimes.

"So support us and help us, and don't be trying to knock us down and get rid of us".

In a statement the HSE says all food businesses must comply with the requirements of food law.

It defines a food business as "any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private carrying out any activities related to production, processing and distribution of food".

It also says people accessing homeless services are among the most vulnerable in the community and may be immunocompromised, and the risk of serious illness from food-borne infection needs to be kept in mind.

'Help us, don't knock us down' - Anger as Dublin soup kitchens face closure for food safety breaches

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: A homeless soup run in Dublin city. Picture by: Gerard Walsh Photographer

Share this article


Read more about

Denise Carroll Dublin Environmental Health Service Food Safety Breaches Friends Helping Friends Glenda Harrington Health And Safety Homeless Hse Soup Kitchens The Homeless Street Café

Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

The Hard Shoulder

The Hard Shoulder

16:00-18:00

Share

Up next

TECH TALK WITH JESS KELLY

TECH TALK WITH JESS KELLY

18:00-19:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

19:00-22:00

Share

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

22:00-00:00

Share

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:00-06:00

Share

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

06:00-06:30

Share

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

06:30-07:00

Share

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

07:00-09:00

Share

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

09:00-12:00

Share

LUNCHTIME LIVE

LUNCHTIME LIVE

12:00-14:00

Share

MONCRIEFF

MONCRIEFF

14:00-16:00

Share

THE HARD SHOULDER

THE HARD SHOULDER

16:00-19:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on