Soup kitchen for Athlone as levels of food poverty soar


Soup kitchens might conjure up images from Dickens’ novels, but with 10 per cent of the population facing food poverty, one man wants to ensure that they are accessible in modern Ireland.

Oliver Williams, who opened the Twist Soup Kitchen in Galway city last June, now plans to launch a second facility in Athlone, Co Westmeath, on Monday, October 29th.

Once a beneficiary of soup kitchens while living in London in the 1980s, the Galway man believes there is an increasing demand for such services here.

In Athlone, Mr Williams cites the number of closed businesses as an indicator of difficult times.

“A lot of places are closing down, a lot of businesses. Walk up along the street – pubs, clubs, restaurants, retail outlets [closed] – and that is the trend.

“I have been around Athlone and I see a lot of poverty. I see a lot of people that have no jobs and I think it will be bigger than Galway,” he remarked.

Walking into a soup kitchen in Ireland is an eye-opener for many people, he said. “They would be very surprised, people have this opinion that it would be down-and-outs. Not at all, it’s people like ourselves, just fallen on hard times.

“I find in Galway a total mix. About 20 per cent are elderly people, a lot of middle-aged people that have missed their dole payments or don’t qualify for dole payments, or maybe no money until next Thursday, that kind of thing.”

Anyone wishing to support the project in any way can contact Oliver Williams on 087 7773845.