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Chippy’s call to help feed the homeless

A fish and chip shop that posted on Facebook offering free chips to local homeless people has been inundated with support from its community and is now calling on other businesses to follow suit.

Mel Wallis, who has worked at Barming Fish & Chips in Maidstone, Kent, for the past three years, posted the offer on Monday unbeknown to her bosses, brothers Nuh and Mehmet Karsandi. It has since had over 700 likes, 140 comments and nearly 3,500 shares.

Mel comments: “I always feed the local homeless man who lives in the woods, and I was at work the other night and I thought, you know what? It’s still cold out there, there must be others that are hungry and could do with a bag of hot chips. My boss text me when he saw the post asking me what I had done! But then said he thought it was an amazing idea and he didn’t have a problem with it at all.”

Off the back of the post, Mel and her bosses have agreed to visit the local homeless shelter on Tuesdays with as many portions of chips as it requires, while offers of support from customers have lead to a pay it forward scheme being set up at the chippy.

Mel adds: “We had so many offers from customers who wanted to help us that we’ve started a pay it forward scheme. Customers come in, write on a Post-it note what they’ve paid for and it goes on the wall.

"The support has been fantastic, we really do have the best customers. We’re only a small shop and our customers are our regulars. We are on first name terms with them all, they queue out the door, they don’t mind waiting, and I think that’s why the chip shop is so busy; it’s not just our food, it’s our customer service. It’s such a lovely atmosphere.”

The chippy is now encouraging other shops to get on board with the initiative, with Mel adding: “As a business, you can’t afford to do this forever. My chip shop is small, we don’t make huge profits, but we get by. But if we could get, say, a shop in Medway Town offering to feed the homeless one week and another doing something the next week then those that need a hot meal would know on a Monday night to go to this chip shop, on Tuesday night to go to that one. I would love to see this idea spread.”

The initiative has not only gone down well with the locals but also the shop’s bosses. “Nur and Mehmet have been really emotional, hearing everyone’s comments about how good the shop is and how lovely the owners are," says Mel. "It’s given them a real boost because, like so many chip shop owners, they try so hard.”

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