When we spotted an article in the Leicester Mercury that the ‘Saray Mangal‘ restaurant on Highfield Street was holding a free Christmas dinner for the homeless on Christmas Day we knew there was a story to be told and that we had to speak to Mehmet Aydin, the owner of the restaurant. After all not every restaurant puts on a free dinner on Christmas Day, what to speak of a free dinner for the homeless.

Having progressed in our Community Media studies to the point of conducting an interview we felt ready and having the confidence to record Mehmet. It turned out that Mehmet was well known to us from the Turkish shop we regularly visited. He was as much surprised to see us as we were surprised to see him and he immediately agreed to an interview. We also found out that Mehmet was a prolific social media user and not new to being interviewed nor was he media shy.

Mehmet Aydin at Saray Mangal Restaurant

Our first interview was a mishap. We used the ‘Hindenburg FieldRecorder‘ mobile app, which is designed for radio reporters, however, we didn’t realize that the free version (Lite) had a one minute recording limit. We only found out after we had left the restaurant, which meant the interview was spoiled.

For our second try we booked the Zoom H5 Digital Audio Recorder from DMU’s AV Loans and returned to Saray Mangal. This time we made sure we tested the recorder and that the settings and levels were set correctly. Fortunately we told Mehmet on our first visit that we wanted to return with more professional equipment. He was therefore not surprised to see us again to record our second interview, this time successful. Here is the interview:

During the interview Mehmet told us that he was inviting the homeless of Leicester for a free Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. He was doing this for the second year and was expecting over 150 homeless. When we asked him why he was doing this he explained that there was a time when he too was homeless, sleeping on the street. He knew exactly how they felt. Because of hard work, holding down three jobs at one point he pulled himself out of this situation. Now he wanted to give something to the homeless by inviting them for a free Christmas dinner. He furthermore explained that last year he had employed a homeless and was very satisfied with his work. He didn’t really expect such good work.

At the end of our interview Mehmet said he was happy for us to return on Christmas Day for filming his homeless Christmas dinner at the Saray Mangal restaurant. We are looking forward to do so.

Inside the Restaurant

Following is an update to this story. On Christmas Day we visited the Saray Mangal restaurant and did an interview with Claire, one of the volunteers serving the Christmas meal.