Brisbane lawyer Brendan Ryan has fitted out a trailer and purchased a barbeque to personally offer meals to some of his city's homeless and needy people every Wednesday night.
Ryan, a senior partner at defence law firm Ryan and Bosscher Lawyers, will offer the first of his dinners this Wednesday night at one of Brisbane's prominent locations for homeless people - some of whom he has formerly offered legal assistance to.
He told Lawyers Weekly today that he was inspired to establish the service by a poem that a client wrote for him a couple of years back, in which the client thanked Ryan for offering him "tea, coffee, sandwiches, milk, a newspaper and a soft chair".
He said that when he received the poem he realised how vital it was that all the people who see him -rich or poor - were completely comfortable in his office. "People who are without are genuinely very uncomfortable. They often haven't eaten properly and it's hard for them to focus on other aspects of life if they are hungry," he said.
The last line of the poem read: "If you're thinking Brendan What's the big deal? All you really did is buy me a meal," which Ryan said has had a huge impact on him ever since.
"The thing that struck me is that this is a very well structured poem. A lot of these people who are homeless are bright people, but somewhere along the line, they've lost their way," Ryan said.
Ryan has labelled the project "Need(y) For A Feed", and will work with other volunteers from his firm, as well as his children, to keep the mobile kitchen running every Wednesday - when Ryan has noted a lack of food for the homeless available - in areas he considers most in need.
"Everybody in my firm in this office has all indicated their willingness to attend and be a part," said Ryan, explaining that other offices in the area have expressed their interest in participating, too. "I think that's lovely that everybody wants to be involved - not one single person [in his office] has said they wouldn't wish to help."
Ryan is currently funding the venture privately, but said he hopes to draw some commercial supporters in the future. He said he hoped other lawyers might be inspired by his actions to also realise that simple gestures could make a big difference. "I'm sure if they read about just this one instance of a lawyer doing something in the community they might say, 'Well - that sounds simple enough!'."
- Angela Priestley