We’re More Than a Food Bank: Sufra NW London’s response to Coronavirus
The past three months at Sufra NW London have been extremely pivotal for our organisation and our community at large. From the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we have come together to scale up our services to address the hunger and destitution caused by the conditions of the virus. We can’t say it has been easy; we have been challenged and stretched in every way, but we are eternally grateful for the monumental support we have received for our Coronavirus Emergency Appeal. Analysing the current landscape of food inequality and the financial constraints that food banks all over the country are experiencing, we are certainly among the lucky ones.
For Sufra NW London, it was never just about food and money. Hunger and food security are certainly key issues, but we are more than a food bank. We have always been more than a food bank. The global pandemic has emphasised that hunger and the lack of food is just the tip of the iceberg for many families and individuals who use our services. Our beneficiaries – our guests – have often come to us at their breaking point. Some of them have bills they need to cover but not enough money left for food, some of them have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table for their children, and some of them are so vulnerable to the virus that they have been confined to their homes, starving and isolated.
We have approached the crisis from a holistic perspective by providing our food bank users with food parcels as well as signposting services, advice, welfare checks, help with gas and electricity bills and other forms of support they may need. Our Give it 100 laptop drive with The Lady Fatemah Trust was designed to provide disadvantaged families with laptops and wifi and it is a key example of how we are expanding our services to understand the wider context of poverty.
Whilst we have discontinued all in-person activities such as our weekly community kitchen and our classes and workshops, we haven’t stopped working. We have been delivering hot meals and food parcels all over the borough of Brent. People have recognised the privilege of a full fridge and pantry and felt compelled to pay it forward. We are always in awe of the support that we receive every day and the creative ways that people have been raising money for our appeal.
What the Numbers Mean
As always, we maintain that food banks are not a solution to food poverty. Just because we exist, doesn’t mean those in charge are absolved of their responsibility to ensure that food is a human right. The statistics present a wider call to action. We felt it was important to compile this data in order to continue being a transparent and honest organisation, but we can’t do it alone. As a member of the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), we have worked together to further our understanding of how the current climate is affecting our work and why we’re putting pressure on the government to support us. You can read the full report here.
If you would like to continue supporting our work and help us meet the demands of the pandemic, please consider making a donation to our Coronavirus Appeal. Alternatively, can check out more ways to donate. We have been selected by Global’s national Make Some Noise campaign to continue making a difference to people’s lives in the midst of the pandemic. Read more about our involvement here.