So finally, I'm back!

So finally, I’m back! All those rumours that I had eloped to Tanzania are unfortunately untrue. And no, I wasn't on holiday for 2 months - I was working on a project - so if anyone else asks me "How was your holiday?" I'm going to get seriously peeved off.

In my absence, great things have been happening at Sufra NW London.

Over 50 young people took part in the Summer Academy learning how to harvest and cook healthy meals, refugee children attended extra English classes in preparation for the new school year, and there’s been a bustle of young volunteers weeding, watering and winging in the garden.

We also launched our pancake stall – Oh Crepe! – which is providing employment and volunteering opportunities for those out of work. In fact, the stall is managed by a young lad who is currently homeless (but hopefully not for much longer).

There’s also been lots of excursions too – including 3 field trips to Kew Gardens and a trip to the seaside for our refugee families. (Although nothing beats my safari to Serengeti. Yes, it wasn’t a holiday, but how could I go to Tanzania without taking a selfie with a giraffe?)

Running on Empty 

Such is demand at the Food Bank that frankly, we have no food left in the stock room. In the last month alone, we've spent over £4,000 filling in the gaps on the shelves and rationing toilet rolls to one per household – which is a bit gross for a family of 6. Initial figures from our resident statistician indicate that in the last year the number of food parcels issued increased by 47%, equivalent to 120,975 meals!

We simply cannot keep up with demand and we need your help to avert crisis. We don’t want your money – we just want food.

Everyone can do something and here are some ideas to get you into action:

(1) Volunteer at one of our supermarket collections on Sat/Sun 13/14 October or 10/11 November at Asda Wembley Park. Click here or here to register.

(2) Make a personal food donation directly to Sufra NW London – or order online and get the supermarket to deliver. Tesco and Asda are a bit funny about delivering to a ‘non-domestic customer’ so you might want to use Sainsburys.

(3) Organise a collection – at your school, work place or place of worship.

(4) Donate using this link and ALL proceeds will be restricted to the purchase of food.

And this emergency is only going to get worse. As we approach the winter months – the busiest time of the year – the government is rolling out Universal Credit in Brent and the surrounding areas, which will cause chaos for people’s finances. In other areas where Universal Credit has arrived, Food Bank use has increased by 50%.

All our staff and volunteers are on hand to help you with your food collections. Please note that our van can only collect food donations from within a 3-mile radius that amount to at least 250kg.

New Project on the Horizon

If our food challenges were not enough, the Food Bank will shortly be expanding to provide emergency food packs to elderly and unwell patients at the point of discharge from hospital.

In partnership with NHS hospitals across North West London, the project will plug the hole in social care and support patients who have no money or means to go shopping immediately after leaving hospital. It’s early days, but we’ll soon be recruiting new volunteers for this service.

Save the Date – Tuesday 6 November 2018

If you’ve always wanted to see how a Food Bank works and hear the stories of our guests, we’re hosting the award-winning play – Food Bank As It Is – on Tuesday 6 November at Queen’s Park Community School. You can read more about this inspiring, heart-wrenching drama here.

Registration Open for Next Food Academy

The next round of Food Academy for children and young people aged 13-19 years launches on Saturday 15 September 2018. The 6-week course will offer young people all the skills they need to make fresh, healthy meals from scratch. All participants will receive AQA accreditation and a chance to join our Junior MasterChef competition next year. Register here.

Mini Restructure

Our team will expand in the coming weeks. Little Dahir (the mouthy Treasurer of the Youth Committee) will join as Admin Assistant, and Ibrahim (Refugee Resettlement Officer) and Aunty Ros (Advice Worker) will go full-time. Nirmean, who until now has held the organisation together, will focus on youth-related projects, supporting Old Man Jim in the garden and developing new training and employment services.

And finally… (on a more sombre note)

I would like to pay tribute to Kassam Jaffer, one of our donors and strongest advocates, who tragically passed away a few weeks ago. You may recall his star performance at our Fifth Anniversary Celebrations in April 2018, when he took part in the Omelette Making Competition and had the audience bellowing hysterically with laughter.

His legacy will live on at Sufra NW London, and we pass on our sincere condolences to his family.


Mohammed S Mamdani

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