Prime Minister award for Martin
A member of a Baptist church who founded a website that connects homeless people with food and shelter has been honoured by the Prime Minister
On Monday this week (20 August) Martin Stone of Muswell Hill Baptist Church received the daily Points of Light award, which the Prime Minister’s Office uses to recognise outstanding individual volunteers.
Martin received the award for his work on Next Meal, an innovative website that uses GPS technology to help direct homeless people to places where they can access food and support on a 24-hour basis.
Martin was inspired by seeing technology at bus-stops showing when to expect the next service to develop a similar service that could benefit homeless people. The Next Meal website is designed to use GPS to help people find their nearest place of support and is easily accessible on mobile phones.
Since its launch, Next Meal is now helping more than 40 rough sleepers a day in London and has connected with over 120 community support centres. It also recently launched in Plymouth.
Another feature of Next Meal is Next Meal cards, which can be given instead of money to homeless people who are begging.
Martin is the director of Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen, which is based at the Baptist church, and said he was ‘very surprised, thrilled and humbled by this award’.
‘I just had a simple idea and, with the help of others, turned it into a reality,’ he explained. ‘I encourage everyone wherever they are, and what circumstances they are in, to just go out and enjoy doing the same.
‘There are so many kind people in so many organisations offering so much help to the most vulnerable homeless people. I have been fortunate to work with many of them through the Muswell Hill Churches Soup Kitchen.
‘Next Meal has grown out of that, and tries to use technology in the most efficient way possible to link people in need with the wonderful local provision available all round the country. I am delighted that so early in its development, my work in ‘Next Meal, which is in fact the work of many, has been recognised as a Point of Light.
'This award has inspired us all in our efforts to help our disadvantaged homeless to access the support that might enable them to turn their lives around.’
In a personal letter to Martin, Prime Minister Theresa May said, ‘Your work to connect people sleeping rough with nearby support is helping some of the most vulnerable members of our society access the help they need to get back on their feet.’
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey & Wood Green said, ‘I’m delighted that Martin Stone is receiving this award for his innovative Next Meal website. The rise in rough sleepers is a stain on our society and too many vulnerable people are slipping through the cracks, struggling to access the support they need.
‘Next Meal is a practical response to the human stories behind the statistics and, thanks to Martin’s work, it’s helping homeless people across London every day.’
Next Meal is currently available in London and Plymouth. Martin is working to extend its reach in other towns and cities. Visit nextmeal.co.uk.