Homeless become providers during Covid lockdown as Rotary steps up to help

Former rough sleepers at Derby’s Padley Hostel have been key players in the fight to stave off hunger and homelessness for hundreds in the city during the Covid crisis. 

With backing from churches, schools, private donors, supermarkets and Rotary Clubs, Padley has maintained its caring service against all the odds.  But it is now appealing for more support as it gears up to face the tough winter ahead.

The successful charity, founded in 1985, saw a 650% increase in demand for food parcels as the pandemic struck earlier in the year.  Since then it has prepared and served almost 10000 hot meals and delivered over 1000 food parcels to the hungry and homeless across Derby.  And several of the residents of the Padley hostel have been instrumental in what has been a major exercise, providing meals for the 100 or so people who have been housed in hotels and other hostels as part of the ‘Everyone In’ campaign to end rough sleeping in the city. During lockdown, they worked tirelessly processing and redistributing the donations of food, clothing and toiletries which poured into the hostel.

As well as housing the homeless, Padley redistributes food to eight other organisations in the city.  But although it has received donations from over 160 churches and schools in response to its Harvest Festival appeal, it still needs more help to make sure that no-one in Derby goes hungry as the effects of Covid in the winter months bite. 

Now Rotary Clubs in the region have stepped in to provide a new and vital lifeline for the charity.  Rotary4foodbanks has made its second delivery of over 80 cases of staple supplies – coffee, tinned meat, tinned fruit and cereals – to ensure that stocks continue to meet the growing demand.

Rotary Clubs from across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire have so far raised £100,000 which they have used to bulk buy food at discounted prices.  They then distribute this free to foodbanks and charities across the region.  Padley is one of 50 organisations to have benefited from the scheme.

“It could happen to any one of us”

Allan Shaw, chairman of the Padley charity, says the response of the public generally and Rotarians especially has been terrific, but so much more needs to be done:

“The stigma of homelessness and of families just struggling to survive is still there.  But more people are now understanding how it could happen to any one of us.  Covid has brought into sharp focus how we are all vulnerable and the responsibility we have to care for each other, for the greater good.  I have been heartened by the fantastic support there has been for organisations like Padley and the foodbank movement and am hugely grateful to Rotary for their continued support.”

Since 2014, Padley has received no government funding for its operation and has to rely entirely on the generosity of the public.  At the same time, the demand on the services of homeless and foodbank charities looks set to increase.  It is estimated that an additional eight million people will be using foodbank services in the next couple of years.

To find out more about how to help Padley visit

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