Mum and daughter knew what they had to do after trip to McDonald's

Teardrops founder Shauni Ward
-Credit: (Image: Nick Dyer)

A charity is worried about its future after its utility bills increased by more than £1,000.

Teardrops was founded eight years ago after mum, Denise Kelly, and daughter, Shauni Ward, came across a starving, homeless man when taking a trip to McDonald’s on a “wet and windy night”.

Unable to walk past him, Shauni bought him a hot drink and something to eat and when she handed them to the man, his eyes filled up with tears, which led to the charity’s name.

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They realised St Helens had no provision for people experiencing homelessness to get food and hot drinks during the evenings. The pair asked friends and family members to help take sandwiches out to the most vulnerable around the streets.

Since then, they have “taken their dream and made it a reality”, having helped thousands of people through the charity. However, now, with the cost-of-living crisis, their essential work is at risk.

General manager Nick Dyer, who has worked at the centre for six years, told the ECHO: “One of the greatest problems we’ve faced is the rise in utility bills over the last 12 to 18 months. We started off paying around no more than £400 a month for gas and electricity, we are now having to pay around £1,900 - for the delivery of the same amount.

General manager Nick Dyer, left, with Michael Haw and Sally Yeoman as they present the Teardrops hub with a defibrillator
General manager Nick Dyer, left, with Michael Haw and Sally Yeoman as they present the Teardrops hub with a defibrillator -Credit:Nick Dyer

“It’s created a hole in the budget because I need to find this money somewhere to balance the books and keep us going really.”

As a means of becoming more sustainable, the community charity founded Mellor and Black Enchanted Tea Rooms and Made Up, an upcycling furniture business. The idea behind it was funds gathered from these would be put back into Teardrops. However, due to rising costs, the charity had to close both businesses on Saturday, June 1.

Nick, a 50-year-old former tools salesman, said: “It hasn’t been as successful as we wish and things have gone against us. We’ve had to close the business to stop it having a bigger impact on Teardrops. That morning, telling the staff, was devastating.

The Teardrops team made up of workers and volunteers
The Teardrops team made up of workers and volunteers -Credit:Nick Dyer

"I found it difficult to face up to things at that point. People were upset and there were a lot of tears but everyone knew we needed to get the charity back to its core values and they supported that.”

Teardrops prides itself on being a “vital bridge to what other charities and food banks offer to those at crisis point”. It offers advice and support, runs a nice cafe multiple times a week and offers food parcels to vulnerable people - often those who don’t have quality elsewhere.

The charity helps about 300 local families monthly with the likes of Nick working way over their contracted hours as the demand is so high.

In a bid to save Teardrops, a GoFundMe has been set up. It can be donated to here.

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