When staff at a Sheffield supermarket found a homeless veteran stealing food from their shelves, they didn’t call the police.
Instead, they provided the hungry man with tea, cake and a roast turkey dinner – and listened to how he came to be living on the streets.
His story inspired staff at Tesco on Savile Street, in Burngreave, to do more to help the homeless men and women in the city.
And on Friday evening they took to the streets of the city centre to hand out food and hot drinks.
Rachel Liszka, the store’s community champion, said: “We have recently noticed the rise in homeless people in Sheffield and decided it is time to help.
“We had a homeless veteran come into our shop who was caught shoplifting because he was hungry.
“My colleagues got him a tea and cake and I fetched him a roast turkey dinner from our cafe. He was so grateful he cried.
“Just talking to him was heartbreaking. It was down to circumstances that he had nowhere to live, no food, nothing.
“I also gave him some clothes from our clothing bank, which staff have been donating clothes to.
“I said to him that if he is hungry again then to come in and see us. We would much rather help him than get him into trouble with the police.
“Helping him has truly inspired my colleagues to go that extra mile.”
Armed with a van full of food, a team of volunteers walked the streets of the city centre to hand out items from the store to the homeless.
They now plan to make their good deed a regular event.
Rachel said: “We had crisps, bread from our bakery, pancakes, croissants, apples, bananas and oranges. One of our supervisors had bought some sandwiches out of his own money and we gave those out with tea and coffee.
“One lady we met on West Street had a dairy intolerance and so I went into the Tesco there and they sorted her with a hot drink and I bought her a magazine.
“The people we met are so lovely and so nice. Often people turn their noses up at them and call them drunks and drug addicts, but they haven’t brought it on themselves. More often than not it’s the circumstances and it cannot be helped.
“We would like to encourage everyone to not just walk past a homeless person, but to give them a tea or coffee, a sandwich or a blanket.
“As a city let’s get together and share what we can afford to: if nothing else, a smile and a hello rather than a scowl and a tut.”