VOLUNTEERS at busy soup kitchens in Paisley are hoping to expand the service to Johnstone, Renfrew and beyond.

A Helping Hand has been running the weekly event on Tuesday nights in the town’s High Street, Foxbar and Ferguslie areas since last November.

The safe haven provides a welcome reprieve for struggling families, with around 50 people coming along every week.

Steph Hill, who is the driving force behind the project, is now keen to branch out beyond Paisley in a bid to help more people.

The mum-of-one said: “I believe people can be a bit embarrassed about having to go to a soup kitchen but we want to reach out to them and make sure they know this is a safe place to be.

“I want to branch out to the whole of Renfrewshire, starting with Johnstone and then Renfrew. From the feedback I get, I realise there are people in those areas who also need support.”

Steph, 34, who is originally from Wales, first came up with the idea to start A Helping Hand after working on a project at university and volunteering with All Together Now, in Glasgow.

“People maybe think we are just there to help the homeless but we are there to help everyone and we won’t be judgemental,” she said.

“I think a lot of people run into problems with debt and find that, once they’ve paid all their bills at the start of the month, they have no money left to eat.

“I find a lot of people are happy to confide in us and we want to be there for them.”

A Helping Hand, which hopes to gain charity status soon, will host a fundraising event at Kelburne Cricket Club on Sunday, September 1, in memory of tragic Renfrew tot Layla Greene.

READ MORE: Heartache as brave Layla loses cancer fight

Three-year-old Layla lost her battle with an aggressive form of cancer known as neuroblastoma in 2018.

Three-quarters of the proceeds from the event, which starts at noon, will be donated to the Children with Cancer UK charity, with the remaining cash going to A Helping Hand.

Get A Helping Hand: Anyone is welcome to head along to any of the group's kitchens in Paisley. They are within the entrance to M&S in High Street, Foxbar Resource Cafe in the cabin next to the high school, both 7-8pm, and St Ninian's church hall in Ferguslie Park 7.30-8.30pm all on a Tuesday night. 

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