Living in the nation’s capital, we’re all aware of the high cost of living, and there always seems to be more month left than money when it comes to our pay cheques. But for many people living in some of London’s more vulnerable areas, the issues of poverty cut much deeper than most of us could imagine. And that’s why it’s vital that businesses and charities alike step up to help where they can. Vauxhall-based housing association, Community Trust Housing, (CTH) (http://www.cth.org.uk/) has partnered with Zipcar and with the Community Trust (http://www.thetrust.org.uk/), a charity based on its Stockwell Park estate that works with vulnerable residents within the area, (who often face life on the poverty line), to help local hunger issues.
Here’s some insight from Julie Fawcett, Director of the Community Trust.
“The Community Trust operates a number of outreach activities from the local community centre and has noticed an increase in food poverty of late. With the Community Trust being able to engage with a number of local communities, we are able to meet and help people face to face. The Community Trust is currently the second highest source of referrals to the local food bank, however, as we come under increased demand to reach the needs of the local community, we have been looking for other, new ways in which to ensure people in the community do not go without food and are able to feed their families. The recipients of the food provided are both young children and adults and the issue of food poverty has steadily continued to grow.
To help provide a solution to the problem, we have made contact with a number of local coffee shops, including Eat (http://www.eat.co.uk/index.php), Pret A Manger (http://www.pret.com/) and the "Best Before" charity (http://www.lcrn.org.uk/network/member/best-project) to arrange bi-weekly pickups of their surplus food from sandwich and food stores. The food is then distributed directly to those who are most in need. Pickups are generally from Liverpool Street (White Cross Place) and Vauxhall on a Monday and a Saturday, and we have worked hard with the coffee shops to ensure the food is always collected on time. This is a win-win, as it means that the coffee shops are happy with an efficient and reliable collection of their surplus food, (and so will be offering more stores to us soon), and our local residents get access to food that they might otherwise have gone without.
We are also working with Zipcar, a Community Trust Housing partner (Stockwell Park estate residents receive free Zipcar memberships and have access to a number of Zipcars on site), which has kindly volunteered to support our cause and champion their tenants and others affected by low incomes. They supply free Zipvans to us twice a week, so that Community Trust staff and volunteers can make the food pickups in a timely and reliable manner.
This helps people in the area to work together to look after their neighbours and find their own solutions to poverty and hidden hunger.”
Pretty inspiring stuff and a great way to think smarter about food poverty issues in London. What could you do to help in your local area?