Neil Burns, Belfast beneficiary, blogger and volunteer

“When someone's eating healthily, their wellbeing increases” Neil Burns, hostel resident, prolific Belfast blogger and volunteer at numerous homeless projects across the city - knows the value of fresh healthy food. "It's demoralising how much food people throw away, they're lazy, they don't even realise where it comes from" he says.


"Food is a basic human right and it should be maintained and looked after." He has been living at a homeless hostel in Belfast city centre for nearly two years. 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."

Neil now gives his time at Stella Maris, a hostel for chronic alcoholics, and The Welcome Organisation, a housing and homelessness charity. "I had a couple of addiction problems in my teens to mid-20s and had a bad attitude. Now it's nice to give something back in a positive manner. I am not a fundamentalist Christian but I definitely have learned, through my homeless experiences, Christian values and the importance of a Positive Mental Attitude. Helping other people can be very rewarding on a basic human level" he continues. "In an era of greed, and corruption, by helping out in some small way, I feel I am positively contributing towards humanity." Both projects that Neil volunteers at receive regular FareShare deliveries. "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" he continues "They provide much needed nourishment. We eat food like spaghetti bolognaise or beef curry."


Many clients at the projects that Neil volunteers with have mental health issues. He tries to encourage healthy eating, outlining the importance to both mental and physical wellbeing. Meals also 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."  

Neil has written about FareShare on his blog