Coronavirus Update 22 May 2020
How will we cope with a huge surge in demand for food aid that will last for the foreseeable future? And what more can we do to prevent long-term destitution and empower our guests to become financially independent?
Since March, our volunteer drivers have delivered Food Bank parcels to over 11,000 recipients, many of them isolated and penniless. That’s more food parcels in a few months than we provided all of last year. In addition, our Community Kitchen is delivering 2,000 nutritious cooked meals a week to those who are homeless or unable to cook.
We are also providing professional welfare advice and other forms of support to Food Bank guests experiencing benefit problems, threats of eviction (despite government guidance), mental health problems and difficulties accessing online schooling for their children. Meanwhile, we’re busily growing as much fruit and veg as St. Raphael’s Edible Garden can accommodate, so that we can provide more fresh produce to our guests.
At some point soon, Brent Council’s Food Hub will wind down and Food Aid organisations in Brent will have to deal with a tsunami of additional demand. Moreover, with unemployment and benefit applications already at record levels, the economic fallout will clearly last many months, if not years.
To respond to this crisis, we will be expanding our operation to work out of multiple kitchens and secure an additional Food Bank depot to continue delivering food aid safely and to scale. We’ll also be growing our team of volunteers – especially our Advice Volunteers so that we can do more to reduce dependency on the Food Bank.
In the meanwhile, we continue to work closely with Brent Council and the Brent Food Aid Network to ensure our response is efficiently coordinated and that more is done to address the root causes of food insecurity in the community.
How Can You Help?
If you would like to continue supporting Sufra NW London as we scale up and adapt to the crisis, please consider making a donation to our Coronavirus Appeal here. Regular monthly donations are particularly helpful at this time – however small.
Alternatively, you can drop off any of the non-perishable food items we distribute to our main building – just leave them in the wheelie bins outside between 10am – 5pm Monday-Friday. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also very welcome.
Food Bank: This is currently a delivery only service, with referrals for food aid received electronically from our network of voluntary sector organisations. Sufra mainly delivers food parcels to refugees, asylum seekers and homeless families without cooking facilities.
Community Kitchen: We are working with local businesses and charities to scale up the delivery of freshly cooked hot food delivery across Brent to those who don’t have cooking facilities or who are elderly and isolated. We are already working closely with the homelessness sector and delivering to a large number of refugees and asylum seekers, but will soon be able to deliver cooked food to many others in need.
Community Garden: Therapeutic and educational activities have had to close, but we are scaling up food production to supplement our supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables for those most in need. We are also supporting local residents on St. Raphael’s Estate to grow their own food, providing growing beds, soil and plants/seeds.
Advice Services and Refugee Support: Both of these services are fully functional but operating remotely, with the support of our Advice Volunteers and Arabic Speaking Volunteers.
NHS Emergency Food Aid Service: Operating as normal – please contact Nirmean@sufra-nwlondon.org.uk if you are registered for the service and require Food Packs for patients, or if you are an NHS department that would like to register.
We urgently need Community Kitchen Volunteers to help us cook food for vulnerable people across Brent, please email our Community Chef firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to be part of our pool of volunteer drivers, please complete this form.
If you are an experienced grower and would like to volunteer regularly, please complete this form.