Coronavirus Service Update – July 17th 2020
The past month has been a defining moment for Sufra and for Food Banks across the country. Now that more data has been published about rising levels of poverty across the UK and how charities like us have had to meet the increased demand for food aid, our story, key messages and challenges have been greatly amplified
The latest report published by IFAN UK has shown how the pandemic has aggravated hunger across the nation and we are glad that these issues have finally been receiving much needed media attention. It’s clear that there are still monumental challenges to tackle; IFAN calculates there has been a 177% increase in the number of 3-day emergency food parcels distributed since last year (comparing May 2019 to May 2020).That’s not far off the 202% rise in food aid that we have witnessed at Sufra.
We are keeping a close eye on these worrying trends and anticipate more food insecurity ahead as the economic crisis begins to bite. As part of our membership with IFAN and our advocacy for their incredible work, we have signed a letter to the Prime Minister, along with other member food banks, to call for more government support.
Our main priorities have been navigating the changes happening around us as we enter a new phase of the pandemic – including the closure of Brent Council’s temporary food bank facility, which we expect to result in an increase in demand for food aid across Brent, as well as a reduction in volunteer driver availability as people start returning to work. To cope with the additional demand on our services, we have now re-opened our Food Bank for in-person collections.
At the start of the pandemic, we received an overwhelming level of support for our Coronavirus Emergency Appeal and we are extremely grateful for the outpouring of donations, in-kind food and toiletries, volunteers and funding. Thank you all so much! However, we have recently seen a decline in our food and toiletries stocks in our Food Bank and have been asking our supporters for more donations to remedy this.
For more of an insight into our work, you can check out our photo series More than A Food Bank (courtesy of our amazing volunteer photographer Adithio Noviello), which depicts the reality on the ground at Sufra and explores what it looks like to run our services in the middle of a pandemic.
How to Help
If you would like to donate essential food items on our list, please simply drop them off outside our main building in the clearly marked bins. Alternative, you can donate via this link. We are especially in need of pasta, oil, and baby formula and encourage restaurants and organisations to donate any surplus stock (but not cooked food, as we are cooking this fresh every day at Sufra).
Food Bank: We reopened for collections on Tuesday 14th July. Guests will be able to collect food parcels on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11-3pm. We will continue to deliver food parcels to those who are deemed vulnerable/isolating. Guests will still need a referral for a voucher to access the Food Bank. Our updated list of referral agencies can be found here and the contact number for vouchers and related queries is 020 3441 1335, option 3.
Community Kitchen: we are continuing to cook hot meals to deliver to those without cooking facilities as well as the elderly and isolated. Our Community Kitchen is still closed to the public. We are currently working on a weekly series of ‘cook-alongs’ on Instagram Live with our resident Community Chef Prince to share recipes for the meals we are cooking and to give the public a space to ask questions about our work as well as a chance to share their own experiences. The first cook-along will commence on the day before the Eid-al-adha festival at the end of the month. More details will be available about this soon.
Community Garden: whilst classes and activities in this area have been closed since the start of the pandemic, we have slowly been reintroducing small, social-distance friendly activities in the edible garden. We have filled our vacancy for a new Part-Time Community Food Grower and look forward to increasing our yields of organic produce. We will also be launching a weekly blog series on our website with regular content about St. Raphael’s Edible Garden and an Ask the Gardener section. We will be sharing more details about this across our social media channels in due course.
Advice Services and Refugee Support: Both of these services are fully functional but operating remotely. We are currently looking for more Advice Volunteers and Arabic-speaking Volunteers to support these services.
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.
If you would like to be part of our pool of volunteers, please complete this Google Form. We are particularly in need of support with admin, data entry, signposting and supporting Arabic speaking refugees and Asylum seekers.