A KIND-HEARTED Flintshire truck driver has been helping to feed the homeless in Wrexham every week without fail for four years.
Matt Payne, 42, from Flint, provides hot meals and supplies at Queens Square every Wednesday from 8pm with his partner Sian Bradley, cousins Hel Smart and Carrina Edwards from Denbigh, and volunteer Matty Edwards who lives in Bagillt.
He said: We take out 30 hot meals and 30 snack bags every week. I have various cooks around Flintshire who help make the meals and put the bags together.
Then we use three cars to take it all down to Queens Square. Any left-over food is given away to the local night shelter so it doesnt go to waste.
At the moment were in desperate need of warm clothes, sleeping bags and roll mats which provide insulation.
After hearing about his selfless work from a client, Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management were keen to support his efforts.
Emily Mooney, who works as a PA for the company which is based in the former Wrexham Lager brewery building on Central Road, has been coordinating a staff collection which includes vital equipment such as sleeping bags and insulated roll mats as well as scores of food snacks.
Mr Payne said: Im really grateful to Hadlow Edwards for helping us out with this.
Theyve heard about what we do and know Ive been doing it for a long time so it will get to the people who need it. Im not a charity so I wont take money, I give out a shopping list instead!
We help between 20 and 30 people every week. Their backgrounds vary. A lot have addiction or mental health problems.
Ive put a takeaway carton in an ex solicitors hands before. He lost his wife and kids and ended up homeless. I always says youre only a couple of pay-checks or a couple of bad decisions away from being there.
Emily Mooney said: We heard about Matts wonderful work via a client and were keen to lend a hand in any way we could.
Were very proud to be part of the Wrexham community and want to support it as much as possible.
Sadly, more and more people are finding themselves living on the streets without food or any bedding, simple things we take for granted.
We asked Matt what part we could play and he said they were desperate for sleeping equipment and snacks so we immediately launched a collection in the office, which is still running and mounting up every day.
Hopefully this small gesture will make a big difference to the homeless community in Wrexham, and we applaud the work Matt continues to do on a weekly basis.
Matt was working for a skip hire firm when he was inspired to start helping the homeless following an encounter behind a retail premises in Wrexham town centre.
He explained: There was a guy huddled up and as I dont carry any money with me when Im working I didnt have anything to offer him.
Now normally Id go alright mate? and have a conversation, I chat to everyone. But on this occasion I just didnt think that would help him and I ended up ignoring him as I collected the skip.
It was the last time I ever did ignore a homeless person because I felt so bad. I was driving away thinking what can I do to help? What needs to be done? All day it wrecked my head.
At the time I was part of a motorcycle club so when I got home I put a post up on the Facebook group. I told everyone how it had made me feel so one of the members said to me what you going to about it then?
So I thought to myself what do they need? At first I started taking five or six meals every Wednesday. Then I put a Facebook appeal out locally and started getting donations.
Coats, socks, toiletries, you name it - everything that we take for granted. I got overwhelmed by peoples help. They felt the same as me, guilty that they werent helping but not knowing what needed to be done.
For the first month I was going out every Wednesday and trawling the streets looking for homeless people and finding them in various corners and shop doors.
Then I said Id be at Queens Square from 8pm every week, whatever the weather, and now I dont ever need to leave there.
The trust and respect is there. They know I will turn up. I only ever miss one week a year and thats to go on a family holiday and even then I get cover. They even help unload the car and set the table up.
Matts support for the homeless community goes beyond providing weekly meals and clothing supplies.
Hes also organised charity events and last year spent a week sleeping rough on the streets of Chester to raise awareness of the plight of homeless people in the city.
Matt said: I slept rough in Chester for a week to help raise awareness. It was the scariest time of my life. I lived alongside the homeless people.
The public view of you is the hardest thing. You had people crossing the road just to avoid you.
I left my rucksack and sleeping bag in one of the soup kitchens and headed back out into the street and the difference in how people viewed you because you didnt stand out with your sleeping bag was an eye opener.
That person who is sat there with their sleeping bag is someones son or father. Theyre not an alien.
Matts crusade to provide homeless people with things that society often takes for granted has even led to him landing a new job with Sealand-based Dandys Topsoil.
He got to know owner Adam Dandy who does a lot of work to support the homeless in Chester and began driving for the company 12 months ago.
Can you help Matt to help the homeless? Find Matt on Facebook under Matt Pyne.
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