Soup kitchen in Sligo forced to close over toilet red-tape

The last in a series of six soup kitchens serving free meals for people in need has shut down, leaving 60 regulars struggling for food in the run-up to Christmas.

But founder Oliver Williams said yesterday that he hopes to reopen the Sligo Twist Soup Kitchen two weeks after Christmas if he can find a suitable place for customer toilets.

The only toilets in the Sligo kitchen, opened in January last year, are right behind the cooking facilities. They are suitable for staff but the HSE wants him to provide separate toilet facilities for customers.

The building is in receivership but he has already reached agreement that he can continue to operate the kitchen when the internal lay-out problem is resolved. Mr Williams, inspired by help in a London soup kitchen when he was a teenager, opened six in Irish towns in 2012 and 2013.

They all closed over planning problems and local controversies. Instead, Mr Williams opened a mobile free-food service which drops off juice, vegetables, meat and canned goods from refrigerated trucks to needy homes. He said the mobile food service works better than the soup kitchens.

Athenry-born Mr Wilson added: “We keep hearing about the recession lifting on the east coast, but no way is it happening in the west of Ireland. I see people stretched to the limit every day. Single mothers in housing estates are struggling and there are children going to school hungry.”

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