Ryan Giggs serves meals to homeless people at the Booth Centre
He might have a growing restaurant empire but it’s not often you find Ryan Giggs putting in a shift in the kitchen.
But the Manchester United legend did just that as he helped to serve lunch to homeless people at the Booth Centre.
The Class of 92 star stopped by the day centre today to see how it benefits from the meals donated by his Worsley restaurant George's.
The restaurant, which he opened in his home village with school friends Kelvin Gregory and Bernie Taylor in 2014, was the first business to sign up to local social enterprise Foodinate, which gives a meal to people in need every time a diner orders selected dishes from the menu.
Ryan, 43, told the M.E.N: “Foodinate has been a success. It’s just over a year now and we’ve donated 4,000 meals which is great for us and obviously great for the Booth Centre.
“It’s the first time I’ve been down and it’s been great seeing the great work that the volunteers do and seeing the boys and girls who come down and who the Booth Centre helps.
“It gives you a feel and it just helps you push on. I can go back to the lads in the kitchen and everyone who works at George’s and tell them what great work we’ve done - and also the customers who have been a great supporter of Foodinate since we’ve started.”
It’s not the first time Ryan has supported Manchester’s homeless community. He and fellow footballer-turned-business partner Gary Neville hit the headlines in 2015 when they let a group of rough sleepers stay in the Stock Exchange building, which they are developing into a boutique hotel with two restaurants from Michelin-starred chef Michael O’Hare.
“While we’d acquired the building we had some visitors, a group of homeless people, and it was just before Christmas so obviously the weather wasn’t great,” he recalls.
“We got together with them and said: ‘Listen, you can stay, we start the building work at the end of January, you can stay until then.’ In the meantime we helped them coming down with food from Hotel Football and just helping them get through that winter period instead of just turfing them out.
“It was something that came out of blue but in the end something that’s worthwhile, and with my association with Foodinate as well, it was something that was close to our hearts.”
Ryan spent the afternoon touring the building and learning more about the work of the Booth Centre. As well as providing free meals to those in need, the centre offers drop-in advice and support to help people find accommodation and employment and to tackle issues such as drug use and mental health problems.
Ryan then met service users in the Cafe and Wellbeing Centre where he signed autographs and posed for pictures before dishing up lunch.
Among them was Stephen Beech who became homeless three years ago after a relationship breakdown. The 51-year-old, who has also battled mental health issues, is now living in a flat thanks to the Booth Centre’s support and gives back to the charity as a volunteer.
Stephen, who describes the Booth Centre as his family, said he was proud to see Ryan there today.
“I’m a Manchester United fan and I’m pleased and grateful for the food he gives us and what he’s done for the homeless with the Stock Exchange,” he said.
“He’s a very good man, he’s a gentleman.”
Foodinate hopes other restaurants will follow George’s lead by signing up.
Founder Caroline Stevenson said: “It’s amazing when any restaurant signs up but someone like Ryan, with the platform he has to shine a spotlight on such an important issue, really helps us to spread the word about the initiative to as many people as possible.”