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Lincoln's Inn Fields
Camden Town
Camden, WC2A 3

Closest station: Holborn

Every Sunday at 6pm

Participants can show up with food and clothing
All welcome

Volunteering at Lincoln's Inn Fields

After a busy day filled with visitors bustling in and out, the evenings at Lincoln's Inn Fields in central London are always quiet.

The only sights are of couples lying down lazily amidst the tranquil atmosphere created by the canopy of trees.

However since August, Sunday evenings are no longer quiet but alive and vivid. Tents are erected, tables are set, and plates full of food and cups filled with juice are laid out. A group of people from different origins and religious backgrounds come together, their arms loaded with edible goodies to feed the homeless.

Queues of starving homeless Londoners come and take as much food and juice as they can. In winter hot drinks are served too.

Food and clothes

A 60-year old woman takes a bite of the food after waiting in the queue for a long time. "This is good pasta," she murmurs in satisfaction. "I come here and have fresh meals every Sunday," she adds.

Volunteers bring and serve food that is sufficient enough to feed everyone. "We bring as much food and drinks as we can because the number of the homeless here is not exactly known or stable," Hanan Chehati, one of the volunteers says.

Besides food, clothes are offered too. After a sumptuous meal, people move over to try on new or used clothes. "I could do with some old trainers and a new jumper," says a young man and he pulls one over his head.

A unique experience for volunteers

As we're talking, a number of homeless finish their first plate and stand again in the queues for a second helping. Other volunteers go around asking if anyone needs second or third helpings.

It is because of these volunteers that this event was made possible, says Chehati. "Everything is paid for from their pockets despite the economic recession they live in."

It is a unique experience for them too. Jacob, 21, who is still a student, says: "I could send food or money for someone to do it on behalf of me, but I want to live the agony of those vagrants for a while in order to not forget about them."

A new home

In the early 1980s, Lincoln Inn Fields used to be a home for the homeless who slept overnight, before they were forced out in 1992. Fences were set up and gates were locked at dusk. The homeless could no longer congregate and became accustomed to having food thrown out to them from the back of a van.

But in recent months, efforts have been made to serve fresh and nutritious meals at least once a week. Chehati sums it up best: "For us, it is about sharing what we have and getting to know those we are eating with."

Motasem Dalloul