Young mum is angel of mercy for city’s down-and-outs

Karyn O'Keefe hands out sandwiches to homeless people in the Town Centre Streets in Preston.  Armed with a bag and butties she simply hands out sandwiches to those that need it most.'30th October 2015
Karyn O'Keefe hands out sandwiches to homeless people in the Town Centre Streets in Preston. Armed with a bag and butties she simply hands out sandwiches to those that need it most.'30th October 2015
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CHARITY begins with the homeless for young mum Karyn O’Keefe.

The busy 29-year-old has become an angel of the streets after an impromptu sandwich run turned into a daily mission to feed Preston’s down-and-outs.

And it was all down to three-year-old son Joey-David, who now accompanies mum on her mercy trips around the city.

“He handed over his blanket to one man who was cold,” said Karyn. “And it made me think: ‘If a three-year-old feels he wants to give something of his to people with nothing then surely we can all do something to help them.’

“Since then it has just taken off. The response has been amazing – it really restores your faith in mankind.”

Former care worker Karyn, who also has a 18-week-old daughter Amelia, decided to help after seeing homeless people near to the city’s railway station when she was dropping husband Dave off for his train to work.

“I was in a supermarket and saw some sandwiches near their sell-by dates which were on offer. There were some packs of pork pies which were reduced too. They would probably have been thrown out at the end of the day. So I just bought what they had and went into town to hand them out. Then I realised I could buy bread, ham and cheese slices and make something like 48 sandwiches for a tenner.

“That was only about a week ago, but since then people have been donating cash and things like blankets, scarves, gloves and toiletries. Sometimes I go into the city centre in a morning and sometimes in an evening. Joey-David comes with me in the car and he points out people he thinks are homeless.

“Why should these people be left to get cold and hungry when there is so much waste in our society?

“The day that really opened my eyes was when one man came up to the car and said that what he would really like was a blanket. I didn’t have any, but Joey-David pointed to his in the back of the car and said he could have that.

“The man was so grateful, he was almost overwhelmed and couldn’t stop saying ‘thank you.’ We put and appeal on Facebook and we have now opened a page on Just Giving. People have been so kind making donations. The attention it has been getting is amazing.

“Like a lot of people I used to ignore the homeless in the street, thinking all they wanted was money for alcohol or drugs. But my eyes have been opened since I started this.

“I’ve asked all of them what they would prefer - money, food or blankets and clothes - and not one of them has said they wanted money.

“If what I’m doing makes a small difference for even one person then I’m happy.”