Anyone who is elderly, vulnerable or isolated in South Leeds can have free meals delivered to them by My Thai on Lower Briggate, every day from 10am to 7pm.
Owner Simon Paul Grybas and a team of dedicated volunteers have turned the restaurant into a service providing help to those who need it most in these challenging times.
If you know someone who may need help, call (0113) 244 6818. Deliveries are made every day between 10am and 7pm.
A team of 30 volunteers – who count heroes from South Leeds among them – are working tirelessly to provide free meals for people in need across Leeds.
They are looking for more drivers to join their 14-strong delivery team to distribute food as well as donations of supplies or money from local businesses and individuals.
Seeing the coronavirus crisis deepen in Italy and the UK on Monday 16 March was the tipping point, Mr Grybas, 37, told South Leeds Life. “I was feeling very depressed for myself and others.”
Sparked into action, his My Thai restaurant now supplies mainly vegetarian food thanks to a partnership with Neil’s Fruit and Veg of Kirkgate Market.
Drivers deliver meals without making face-to-face contact to prevent the potential spread of infection.
“I own 16 restaurants altogether and only two of they are staying open. If I’m going down, I might as well go down helping other people,” Mr Grybas added.
The efforts depend on volunteers and donations from businesses and individuals. Approximately 1,400 people were helped across West Yorkshire in the first week of operations alone.
All deliveries are free but voluntary contributions are welcome. Donations of spices, milk and butter are being sought to keep the kitchen going.
The team makes salads, stews, soups, curries, apple crumble and custard, sweet and sour and even toilet roll deliveries, depending on what people have donated.
Donations will be used to buy essential items like food and toiletries. Any remaining money will be donated to the NHS.
“We have to help out and look after each other. Money is not the priority,” he emphasises.
“Our primitive instinct of survival is kicking in and that’s helping people survive this terrible virus.”
“It’s all cooked fresh, just like Ready Steady Cook. They [the volunteers] see what’s being delivered and make a meal from it. We’ve all become vegetarians now.
“We deliver to wherever we get a call from”, including Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Castleford.
Kristina Kate, who works at Tesco Express on Dewsbury Road, is one of the volunteers giving up their free time for the cause.
“At this time of year I like to help and get involved,” she said. “I know a lot of elderly people. There are volunteers from local restaurants and bars.”
George Aldridge, who works at the same Beeston Tesco, is also part of a truly international effort that chimes with Mr Grybas’ Lithuanian heritage.
“I’ve worked with Yorkshire people, the Lithuanian community, Polish people, Argentinians, Brazilians,” Grybas summed up.
Holbeck Food Bank are also appealing for donations and you can find out more by calling 07710 467587.
People can also sign up as Community Care Volunteers with Voluntary Action Leeds by completing the form here.