Meet Our Guests

From the moment our guests access the Food Bank and speak with our volunteers, our aim is to provide them with all the support they need to transition from crisis to independence, wellbeing and re-integration in the community.

Below are some real-life stories of the transformative journey that many of our guests experience:

“Coming from a very dark place and on the brink of homelessness, Sufra gave me the confidence and support I needed to start my journey back to the ‘real’ world. Believe me, a bowl of soup and a shoulder to cry on in the right place goes a long way.

And Sufra NW London is that place.”

Rui (former Food Bank guest)

Ms M

Ms M spoke to us about the social element that the Community Kitchen provided her. Her 3 children are students at Ark Elvin Academy, and she heard of the sessions through them. She regularly meets her sister and her children at the kitchens to eat a healthy meal together.

The space allows her to meet her sister, and for her children to share a meal and socialise with their cousins, without placing the burden on either family to host and cook for the entire family. She reiterated the difference it has made having a welcoming space to come to socialise, where she doesn’t need to worry about how long the oven has been on for – or the washing up!

Ms M

Ms M spoke to us about the social element that the Community Kitchen provided her. Her 3 children are students at Ark Elvin Academy, and she heard of the sessions through them. She regularly meets her sister and her children at the kitchens to eat a healthy meal together.

The space allows her to meet her sister, and for her children to share a meal and socialise with their cousins, without placing the burden on either family to host and cook for the entire family. She reiterated the difference it has made having a welcoming space to come to socialise, where she doesn’t need to worry about how long the oven has been on for – or the washing up!

  • The kitchen provides a lifeline for him and his family

    Mr T

    Mr T has accessed the Sufra Food Bank since 2019, on and off. With a precarious work contract and a new baby in the family, he came back to Sufra for support at the end of 2022. While working with our Advice Team on income maximisation, he learnt of the Ark Elvin Community Kitchen. His daughter is a student at the school, and he lives close by.

    From the first sessions in 2023, he attended the service each week with his entire family, often bringing extended family members who were staying his him, and his daughter signed up to volunteer in the kitchen, coming down straight from her final lesson.

    The kitchen provides a lifeline for him and his family – saving money and time, whilst providing a warm space where he can spend quality time with those he cares about in a welcoming, community setting.

  • One day, the women had enough and said ‘get in the car, we’re taking you to Sufra!’

    Haidar

    Our food bank volunteer, Maria, came across 3 Irish sisters in our food bank line. They were regulars and always loud and full of beans.

    Standing behind them was a Middle Eastern man, and the ladies had asked Maria to serve him first. Maria refused, stating she would serve him next, but they insisted. The man had never been to the food bank before and told Maria that he was brought here by the three ladies.

    They were his neighbours, and expressed concern that he was losing weight. He had a wife and a few kids to support as well. They asked him if he was getting help – he said he was doing alright and didn’t need any.

    One day, the women had enough and said ‘get in the car, we’re taking you to Sufra!’. They came quite late in the day so there was a lot of stock left. He also got a ride home from the ladies so he wouldn’t have to carry the load.

    He said if they hadn’t done that, he didn’t know what would happen to him. His mental health had been low lately, as he’s been suffering from PTSD because of a civil war in his hometown, hence why he struggles to accept support from strangers.

  • The issues facing our guests could happen to anyone.

    Cheryl and Ace

    A few months ago, our Advice Team came across Cheryl. She had been living with her partner and their young child in accommodation rented by her partner. After her partner left and stopped paying bills, the landlord began sending eviction letters and eventually started court proceedings against Cheryl’s ex-partner. This left Cheryl and her son at risk of imminent street homelessness. She is a Grenadian national who had overstayed her visitor’s visa and had lost her passport.

    Sufra had covered the cost of her passport replacement, referred her to Project17 and Advice For Renters, provided Oyster top-ups for travel costs and a portable heater to alleviate heating costs.

    The issues facing our guests could happen to anyone. By supporting Sufra, you can help support people in your community who go through hard times and a change of circumstance.

  • We also provided his son with a laptop, so he could connect with classmates and complete his GCSE coursework.

    Mr B

    Mr B is a 55-year-old Syrian refugee, whose family have been struggling to make a new life in the UK. We’ve helped them since they arrived. In February, Mr B finally found a job and was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to support his family once again.

    Then, last month, Mr B underwent surgery on a war wound and developed a severe infection. He lost his job and this led to a deduction in his Universal Credit payments, forcing him to choose between paying for food and paying the rent.

    When he called Sufra he was isolated, depressed, and desperate for help. We arranged for food parcels to be delivered to his family and Zena (our Arabic speaking Advice Worker) helped the family apply for additional benefits and get the mental health support they urgently need. We also provided his son with a laptop, so he could connect with classmates and complete his GCSE coursework.

  • Regular check-ins with advisors on the application progress, as well as referrals into other local mental health services have ensured that Tia isn’t left to cope alone.

    Tia

    Tia sought assistance from the Community Wellbeing Program (CWP) due to significant financial hardship. The added challenge of being disabled exacerbated their circumstances, as the closure of disability-specific services in the area had left them feeling isolated and without adequate support. In addition to these challenges, Tia also grappled with debt and mental health issues.

    The CWP brought a renewed sense of hope and positivity into Tia’s life, facilitating access to high-quality food and groceries in a manner that preserved her dignity and respect. Additionally, the program has provided an opportunity to establish connections within the community and meet others, addressing a crucial aspect that they felt had been lacking in their life.

    As part of her Personal Development Plan, a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) review has begun to ensure her income fairly reflects her situation. Regular check-ins with advisors on the application progress, as well as referrals into other local mental health services have ensured that Tia isn’t left to cope alone. With 14 interactions with the project so far, Billie enjoys scheduling in an afternoon at Bridge Park.

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