RESTAURANTS in the region have signed up to a Journal-backed campaign to help homeless people. Starting today and lasting two months, StreetSmart asks restaurant diners to add a pound to their bill and the money goes directly to charity.
Last year, 40 restaurants signed up for the appeal which raised around s10,000.
Among the eateries which have agreed to participate this year are Cafe 21 on Newcastles Quayside, Oldfields in Durham and the Living Room on Grey Street in Newcastle.
Polly Sutherland, campaign manager for Street- Smart in the North East, said: Its been a really positive thing and at Christmas its something that people can get into the spirit of.
The people of the North East are really generous and it makes a difference to the charities involved.
It runs for two months and its quite a simple thing. People will be asked to add a pound to the bill at the end of the meal and it all adds up.
Among the charities to benefit from the s10,000 raised in the region last year were the Peoples Kitchen in Newcastle, Tyneside Cyrenians and Byker Bridge Housing Association.
Bob Eldridge, chairman of the Peoples Kitchen which provides food for people living on the streets said: All the money that comes into the Peoples Kitchen goes towards the needs of the 650 people we look after each week. Its going directly to the homeless and makes a real difference. I think the credit crunch is going to have a huge impact on charitable donations, not just in the North East, but across the country.
It makes initiatives like StreetSmart all the more important.
Alistair Christie, chair of the welfare group at the kitchen, said: Theres a whole range of things the money could be used for.
The main function of the kitchen is to feed people so we could use the money to buy fresh food.
We also have the upkeep of the building to think about and running the building is quite expensive because it is an old high-voltage church.
On the welfare side, we do a range of things making them appointments at the opticians and the dentist and taking them on trips. Weve just taken 40 people to Scarborough.
What I would say to people is that a donation to a cause like StreetSmart means that the money will go direct to the groups who are helping homeless people.
We are always impressed with how generous the North East people are.
Im snowed under with donations at harvest time.
The big thing at this time of year is bedding its something we constantly need.
The charity has raised s3.2m nationwide since it started up in 1998, s455,000 of which was raised last year.
Because Deutsche Bank takes care of the administration costs, all of the money goes directly to helping homeless people.