“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)
From the moment our guests access the Food Book and speak with our volunteers, our aim is to provide them with all the support they need to transition from crisis and desperation 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:
Jonathan suffered a knee injury and could no longer work as a fitness instructor. When he applied for benefits, he discovered that he was the victim of identity fraud and another individual was claiming benefits in his name. Without any photographic ID, he found it difficult to provide his identity and he quickly became destitute. He was referred to the Food Bank as a guest, when he became interested in joining Sufra NW London as a volunteer. He was quickly drawn to our food growing project, and became a regular volunteer on St. Raphael’s Edible Garden.
As he became more comfortable working with staff and volunteers, he opened up to us about his difficulties and one of our advice workers supported him through the bureaucratic processes of reporting the crime and proving his identity. Whilst it took several months, including the intervention of his local MP, Jonathan began to receive his benefits and was in a better position to think about his future. He then decided to register for Food Academy Plus, our employability programme, to further his interest in cooking and seek employment in a related industry. He finished the course and achieved accreditation in all modules of the programme.
Through this, Jonathan now works as a private chef and part-time carer for people suffering from dementia.
19-year-old Khalil was brought to Sufra NW London after one of our volunteers found him eating leftovers from customer trays at the local McDonalds restaurant. He had been homeless for 2 weeks, ever since his uncle threw him out of the house.
Khalil is an asylum seeker from Afghanistan. His parents are dead and he has no family to support him. Sufra NW London arranged emergency hostel accommodation, and then transferred him to a shelter. Throughout, we provided a small stipend to pay for his travel costs and mobile phone top-ups, as well as small grants via our charity partners for clothing and other essentials.
Since Khalil had no funding to pay for legal costs relating to his immigration status, we helped him secure a pro-bono solicitor who is currently working on his case. He has now left the shelter and is being housed by a local Afghan family.
Khalil continues to attend Sufra NW London as a volunteer at the Community Kitchen.
After fleeing domestic violence with her 3 children, Tracey was left destitute without a penny to her name. She moved in with her elderly mother, who had recently suffered a heart attack, in her 1-bedroom flat. Unable to survive on her mother’s pension, Tracey was referred to the Food Bank. Over the next few months, Sufra NW London provided her with emergency food parcels and helped her to apply for benefits in her name. When she moved into her own flat, we negotiated with one of our charity partners a small grant to cover the cost of a new fridge-freezer.
Tracey started volunteering for Sufra NW London as an Admin Assistant to gain work experience so that she could look for work. We supported her with preparing a CV and making job applications. Tracey is now employed and able to provide for her family.