Through practicality and passion, the Ladles of Love team provide nutritious meals to fellow South Africans who have lost their way. Healthy ingredients and ardent preparation lead to the creation of meals that give needy individuals sustenance they need to get through the day. Ladles of Love honours Nelson Mandela, the great revolutionary, by forming part of new and inspiring projects every day. Their ethos “make every day a Mandela day” rings true in their daily doings.

Kate Haywood, originally from the UK, was shocked by the state of homelessness in South Africa. “I felt like I needed to be part of the solution. But I had no idea how to get involved. You hear so much conflicting info about homelessness, and what you should or shouldn’t do, so I felt quite paralysed. The misconceptions and different opinions about homelessness made it daunting for me to embark on a volunteering journey in this sector. As a result of these factors, I didn’t do anything about it for many years.”

But once Kate joined Ladles of Love, just by saying an initial ‘hi’, she was swept into their volunteering programme. She started to volunteer but moved to other areas of the project, from marketing to fundraising and operations.

Ladles of Love face and overcome numerous challenges every day.

“Funding has been a challenge we face as a non-profit organisation constantly. Running a soup kitchen is not cheap at all – and we’re serving more than 12000 meals each month. We always need more sponsors so that we can do more for the disadvantaged and homeless. Running an organisation with uncertainty about our finances is daunting, especially when it comes to planning ahead. We never know if we’ll have enough money for the planned events or soup kitchens.

The other major challenge we face is the volume of misconception and misinformation that exists around homelessness. Many people assume homeless people are lazy, drug addicts or must simply ‘go and get a job’. The truth is rarely that simple. Behind the ‘homeless’ label is a regular person with a variety of issues and circumstances – like any one of us. We need to change the way society thinks about homelessness – rather than complain and ask that homeless people are ‘moved on’, we need to get people engaged and involved with the issue and the real faces it effects instead. We need to make the city see that homelessness itself is not the problem, but rather that it is the result of a much larger problem in our society.

There is a large homeless community in Cape Town – recent surveys suggest the total number is over 7000 people living life on the streets. And, with simply not anywhere near that number of shelter beds available, the problem becomes obvious. With figures like these, it can be hard to see how we can make a difference. We can’t fix it with soup, and we know that. But what we can do is provide a safe space for guests to enjoy a hot meal served with love, dignity and respect.

Through our soup kitchens, we provide a platform for people who care to come together to feed the hungry and make a difference. It’s not just about serving a bowl of soup; it’s about building each other up and creating a friendly society for all those who need it most. With dignity, love and respect, Ladles of Love is shifting misconceptions and breaking down some of these unnecessary social barriers. Where else would you see people from such different walks of life sitting together to chat and connect?”

Giving strengthens hope for what the future holds.

“Hope is never lost when there is empathy or love among us for each other and our community. It is empathy and love for people that drives us to give back without expecting a reward. Giving back and watching the lives of the less fortunate transform is a reward on its own.

Our acts of kindness alone don’t necessarily fix the bigger problem (in fact, they often don’t), but it is our small acts of service and doing what you can that change the way we see the bigger problem.

Our soup kitchen started with just one bowl of soup served to one individual nearly six years ago – and from that small action, something really incredible happened. Now hundreds of volunteers come together every week to give back. That is the power of small acts of kindness.”

Find out more about Ladles of Love, donate or get in touch via their website here: www.ladlesoflove.org.za