A SINGLE mum in Melksham is looking for ‘pop-up’ shop premises so that she can distribute food to the town’s working poor and homeless people.

Kirstie Mckeown, 43, says she has managed to rid Melksham’s streets of beggars after starting her charity Melksham Food for You four months ago.

With help from volunteers, Kirstie collects perishable and donated foodstuff from the town’s cafes, shops and supermarkets to distribute to people who are struggling to live.

Currently, between 20 and 35 people are using her charity, and she is being helped by a team of up to five volunteers.

“I started doing it after realising how difficult it is to get by when you have nowhere to live and no money,” said Kirstie, who has a daughter, Orla-Rosabella, 6.

After being made homeless, they stayed in a hostel for a while before being able to rent a two-bedroomed flat in Melksham High Street.

During her time in the hostel, Kirstie saw how difficult it was for homeless people to survive. “Some of them were struggling to get by and some were begging in the streets. Since I started my charity, the street begging has stopped.”

Kirstie launched the charity by cooking food and giving it to those in need of a hot meal. Then she began collecting perishable goods donated by cafes, shops and supermarkets.

Each evening from Monday to Saturday at 6pm, and on Sunday at 4.15pm, she hands out the foodstuffs she has collected to people who need it on the steps of Melksham Town Hall.

“Some of them are homeless and others are ‘working poor’ who have no money. They apply for Universal Credit and then have to wait for five or six weeks for the benefits to come through.

“In the meantime, they have little or no income and are reliant on handouts or the Trussell Trust’s Food Bank service.”

Another local charity called Neighbourly and a team of volunteers are helping Kirstie to collect and distribute the food.

She wants to find town centre premises so that she can increase her stock. “We need something like a pop up shop and storage facilities for tinned goods and non-perishable items.”

Kirstie is trying to identify all the owners of empty shops in Melksham so that she can approach them to see if they can help.

She has also put out a call on Melksham’s online ‘Sham Shout-out’ message board for help in finding a shop premise.

If she’s successful in finding a shop premise, Kirstie says she will have to charge a nominal fee for foodstuffs to cover her costs.