David O’Keeffe became a Trustee of THE DESTITUTION PROJECT (DP) in 2015. The Project had just become an independent charity, separate from BRASS (Befriending Refugees & Asylum Seekers). In January that year, the project opened its doors at the Victoria Hall each Wednesday to refugees and asylum seekers. It had no money in its bank account. All it had to offer was a warm, barren room with several chairs and tables, a free hot meal at lunch time, hot drinks and biscuits all day, free food parcels for the destitute, plus a hand of friendship to around 60 service users who came on that day. Who would have thought that only 4 years later the same Project opens its doors to around 130 service users every Wednesday? It has a healthy bank account, a good stock of food on its shelves to help make up food parcels for the destitute, plus English lessons and other classes. It has a skilled casework and triage team, a barber, snooker and table tennis. All free! How has all this become possible in 4 years? It is possible mainly because of one amazing person – volunteer /trustee DAVID O’KEEFFE. His drive and enthusiasm for the “cause” knows no bounds. Without exaggeration he has worked wonders to enable this wonderful charity to both survive and thrive! He has served as Drop in Centre Manager, Secretary, written to countless charities, organisations and individuals in the hope that they will make donations. He has personally shown many people around the premises, raised our profile and has spoken about DP at numerous events in our town. He is a wonderful role model in terms of dedication to welcoming, and helping individual service users and new volunteers. We are now in a position to fund a drop in coordinator and casework assistant, lap tops for English classes, rent for the premises, food purchases etc. The list is endless! For us all he has not only brought his wonderful skills as a valuable and gifted trustee but he has brought a whole lot of love and laughter to this fantastic project. He puts his heart and soul into being a much loved and much appreciated trustee and volunteer. DP gladly nominated David for this important Award and we were all delighted yesterday when he came out tops! Since David is currently overseas, his partner Wendy was at the CVS event along with DP Chair Paul Martin to receive the award on David’s behalf.

Irina, a volunteer from Destitution Project’s reception team,  is a lady with many talents!  Some of you may already know about her fantastic cooking and baking skills.  Every now and again we get to taste some of Irina’s lovely creations when she brings in a treat for us.  Recently Irina took part in the Bolton Masterchef cook-off competition at the Bolton College.  She shone bright like a star with her wonderful ‘Salad Cake Fantasy’ dish and has the award certificate to prove it!  Well done Irina from all of us at DP.