Where it all began

TAP began with a hot-dog. 

In 2015, London was subjected to an absolutely freezing November. My boyfriend Cian and I had been out at the theatre, and having de-frosted on the tube journey home, hopped off at Vauxhall to be met by the wonderful aromas of our local hot-dog stand. Entranced, we headed towards the smell.

Now you may pooh-pooh the humble hotdog stand; taint it with the 'drunk food' label, relegate it to 'the-only-option-because-KFC-was-shut', but it is so much more than that. The smell of sizzling, sweet and slightly sweaty onions, sausages the length of my forearm artfully drizzled in mustard, and a bun made of bread so white it would give my mum heart palpitations to see me holding it. Plus, it's arctic outside, and the whole shebang is piping hot. 

Whilst waiting, we noticed a guy sitting in the shuttered doorway of Sainsbury's. He was wearing a thin jumper, sitting cross-legged on the freezing cold pavement and literally vibrating with cold. I could hear his teeth chattering. I felt as I often feel in this situation: completely useless. 

 
 
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So we did what seemed the most obvious thing - ordered three hotdogs instead of two, and offered one up to him with a smile. 

The chap rejected the hotdog, telling us that he had already eaten five that evening. Instead he asked us to take it to his friend in the underpass, who thanked us and generously halved the hotdog with her dog. 

Each of those hotdogs cost £5, totalling £25 in just a few hours. What a waste of cash. That money could have paid for a weeks' stay in a night shelter, providing him with a hot meal and a warm bed five nights on the trot. Instead, it left him with a momentarily full belly, and little else. 

Katie and I chatted about this when we were back in the office on Monday. How could the generosity of London be used more effectively? In making giving easier and more immediate could longer-term solutions be found?

Several months later, TAP was born. 

Polly

 
 
Polly Gilbert