Alfie Woodall, a Bournemouth boy who recently turned five, asked for money for charity rather than presents for his birthday. His friends granted his wish and he was able to raise £340 at his birthday party, which his parents doubled.
On Saturday, January 19, Alfie presented the Hope For Food and Bournemouth Foodbank charities with a check for £680 at the Bournemouth Vs West Ham football match. The young boy was inspired to help the homeless after seeing growing numbers of people sleeping on the street in his hometown.
Last year, the Bournemouth Foodbank provided over 6,000 emergency food supplies to people in need. It is estimated that one in five people in the UK live below the poverty line. Across the South West, there are 2,671 people living in temporary shelter, an increase of 180 people from 2017. In Bournemouth, the number of homeless people has grown from 113 to 178 in the last year.
"There are still far too many people who are homeless and stuck in temporary accommodation or being placed in sub-standard and sometimes dangerous B&Bs,” says Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis. “Every day we see first-hand the effects of long stays in these types of accommodation; people can become isolated, with little access to vital support services, in poor conditions with nowhere to wash clothes or cook.
Alfie’s father Roger Woodall, 42, told HuffPost UK that his son has taken an interest in the number of homeless people, especially during the holidays. Roger and his wife Fleur, also 42, often give money to people on the street, which has inspired Alfie to do the same. “It was heartwarming, he really took to it,” Roger says.
Before his birthday, Roger asked Alfie if he would prefer to raise money for homeless people rather than receive presents. “He was so willing and so happy to do that,” Roger says. “It was an amazing feeling as a dad, I have to say, for a four-year-old to want to do that.”
The couple also created a football shirt for their son with his two favorite teams: AFC Bournemouth and West Ham United. At the match, Alfie took to the field during halftime to present the checks to the charity organizations. “I just wanted to try and give them some food, warm clothes and a bed,” he said.
Alfie’s act of kindness has inspired others to follow his example. “It was about teaching him good lessons in life and realizing how lucky we are – getting him one step ahead of the game,” Roger says. “It’s not about material things, it’s about being kind.”
Hope for Food, based in Bournemouth, is run entirely by volunteers. Founded by Claire Matthews in 2012, the organization strives to provide basic necessities to those in need. The charity's soup kitchen, located in the Sacred Heart Church at 1 Albert Rd, Bournemouth, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The organization also distributes clothes, shoes and bedding donated by the community.
The Bournemouth Foodbank is part of The Trussell Trust’s network of 428 foodbanks, which fight food poverty and hunger across the UK. Founded in 2004, the foodbank provided 1,332,952 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis last year. Of these, 484,026 went to children. The Bournemouth Foodbank Office, located at 118 Haviland Road in Bournemouth, can be contacted by phone at 01202 394505. The organization can direct those in need to the most appropriate agency, which will provide a foodbank voucher.