Deliveroo, its restaurant partners and LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity Albert Kennedy Trust (akt) have joined forces to provide free meals to members of the LGBTQ+ community who find themselves in a homeless or vulnerable situation when it comes to affording food or shelter.
The trial begins this Pride Month across 10 restaurant sites in London, Brighton, and Bristol. When a member of the community experiencing homelessness says “I’m a friend of Dorothy” or even just “Dorothy”, before ordering, it will unlock a free main meal as well as additional resources on how they can receive help.
The move for Deliveroo to fund the free meals follows new data from the akt charity, revealing referrals have increased by 58% within the last three years. Previously, data from 2021 by akt revealed that 24% of homeless people identify as LGBTQ+ with 77% believing coming out to their parents was the main factor for their homelessness*.
Five LGBTQ+ owned restaurants including The Athenian, Club Mexicana, Smashing Plates, Tonkotsu, and Bleecker Burger are the first to sign up to the initiative which is being funded by Deliveroo and aims to support the rising numbers of LGBTQ+ homeless people in the UK.
In addition to a meal, information on how people can receive assistance via the akt charity will be provided to them discreetly. Deliveroo and restaurants taking part will also encourage other customers to play an active part and make donations to akt through in-restaurant posters, window stickers and QR codes.
Lea Duchemin (She/Her), Co-Lead of Deliveroo’s LGBTQ+ Network, Deloveroo said: “Deliveroo is a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community, all year round. The move towards supporting the homeless and vulnerable people comes following the shocking numbers and terribly sad situations a number of LGBTQ+ people are finding themselves in. Food is what we do best and helping feed people at their most vulnerable, in a supportive and safe space, and directing them towards vital information, could be a much needed lifeline.”
Tim Spoor, CEO of akt said: “LGBTQ+ young people are at an increased risk of homelessness and housing insecurity. We know that more than 24% of young people experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+. In 2023, LGBTQ+ young people are still facing homelessness because of their sexuality and gender identity, and the cost of living crisis is pushing more young people into homelessness. This Deliveroo initiative will help provide food to LGBTQ+ young people struggling to afford the day-to-day essentials that we take for granted.”
The phrase, “A friend of Dorothy” was first used as a coded synonym for gay men, to identify a safe space, when homosexuality in the UK was criminalised, the term has since expanded as a catchall term for other people who identify as LGBTQ+.The Dorothy in question is thought to be Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, which is seen as an allegory for ‘chosen family’ and a journey towards home.
Deliveroo has supported a number of LGBTQ+ charities since its launch ten years ago including National Aids Trust, Switchboard, Stonewall, Not A Phase, The Raze Collective, akt and Hesla Helps. The British delivery pioneer, who is once again a Pride in London sponsor this year, also launched its School for Allies platform for employees, riders, and restaurant partners with helpful information and guidance on LGBTQ+ issues.
Neofytos Christodoulou from Smashing Plates said “We are excited to join forces with Deliveroo and the akt charity to support the LGBTQ+ community, by offering free meals through the “Friend of Dorothy” initiative. Whilst we do believe there is still a long way to go, we are proud to be part of an initiative that hopes to make a positive impact by helping those facing hardship.”
Emma Reynolds from Tonkotsu said “Tonkotsu is devoted to creating a welcoming and inclusive space for everyone. We are happy to be involved in this Deliveroo initiative and provide meals to LGBTQ+ individuals who are in need of support during Pride Month and beyond.”
Zan Kaufman from Bleecker Burger said “Bleecker Burger has always been proud to support the LGBTQ+ community and the same goes for supporting Deliveroo’s initiative to provide relief for those experiencing homelessness. We are bringing people together, in order to help those in need.”
Meriel Armitage from Club Mexicana said: “As strong allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community, Deliveroo’s initiative matches our values and we are thrilled to be able to add our support and help our fellow LGBTQ+ members experiencing any sort of food insecurity.”
Tim Vasilakis from The Athenian said: “The team at The Athenian is excited to partake in Deliveroo’s initiative that targets a community close to our hearts. We believe that no one should experience homelessness, and we welcome all LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness to come to our brunches and redeem their free delicious Greek meal”
The “Friend of Dorothy” initiative from Deliveroo, akt charity and its restaurant partners is available in-store from participating restaurants (see full list of locations in notes to editors) from today. One meal per person can be redeemed per day and the initiative will initially run for up to three months, or until all meals have been redeemed.