Neil’s Story, Belfast

“When someone’s eating healthily, their well-being increases. It’s demoralising how much food people throw away. Food is a basic human right and it should be maintained and looked after.”

Neil Burns – hostel resident, prolific Belfast blogger and volunteer at numerous homeless projects across the city – knows the value of good food.

Neil Burns





He has been living at a homeless hostel in Belfast city centre for nearly two years and it was here that he first became aware of FareShare; as a recipient of food and by engaging with our army of volunteers.

“Another guy at the hostel started volunteering at FareShare. I found it inspirational that he, as well as the team of delivery drivers, were giving their time for free to help. So I began volunteering at a number of places that receive FareShare food. I volunteer at Stella Maris, a hostel for chronic alcoholics, and The Welcome Organisation, a housing and homelessness charity, helping the cook in the kitchen. FareShare takes the pressure off the chef. She’s working with a limited budget and FareShare helps a lot. The fresh fruit and vegetables are great. They provide much needed nourishment. We eat food like spaghetti bolognaise or beef curry.

I had a couple of addiction problems in my teens to mid-twenties and was very self-centred and had a bad attitude. Now it’s nice to give something back in a positive manner. I have definitely learnt, through my homeless experiences, the importance of a Positive Mental Attitude. Helping other people can be very rewarding on a basic human level. By helping out in some small way, I feel I am positively contributing towards humanity.”

Many clients at the projects Neil volunteers at have experienced mental health problems. He tries to encourage healthy eating, outlining the importance to both mental and physical well-being. Meals provide opportunities for social interactions and can brighten the day.

“Food helps alleviate the boredom; a yoghurt really does go a long way. There are lots of young people in my hostel and it’s good to have treats to help get them through the day.”

Read more stories behind meals

Share This