Olympia transformed into food bank distribution centre during coronavirus outbreak

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

A west London exhibition centre which stages 200 events a year has been transformed into a massive food bank distribution centre.

The move is to help cope with demand, which has increased five-fold because of the coronavirus crisis.

Hammersmith and Fulham council is using Olympia London to help Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank step up the amount of food parcels it gives to residents from 160 a week to nearly 1,000.

The food bank, which is normally London’s busiest, is currently offering home deliveries of food parcels to some of the most vulnerable people who are affected by food poverty during the crisis.

Olympia London opened in 1986 and had been planning to welcome crowds heading to events, including careers fairs and a London Muslim shopping festival this month.

It will now be welcoming volunteers keeping a social distance as they pack up food parcels to help people affected by the coronavirus.

Volunteers who are disclosure and barring service checked, taxi drivers and council staff are taking the food to residents across the borough.

It is part of the council’s Community Aid Network response set up because of the pandemic.

It is being led by the council’s deputy leader Sue Fennimore, who said: “Olympia London, the Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank and our amazing army of volunteers are helping to make sure people get what they need and nobody is left behind.

“We want everyone to know they’re not alone, we are on their side, and help will be nearby and on its way throughout this international emergency.”

John Hitchcox, chairman of Olympia London’s owners Yoo Capital, said: At this time, which has been so hard on so many, we want to help in any way we can and are glad that we can play our part in ensuring the people in our local community get the resources they need to get by.”

The council’s Community Aid Network can be contacted on 0800 145 6095 or can@lbhf.gov.uk by people who need help or are worried about others.

The line is open from 9am to 7pm on weekdays and until 2pm on weekends.

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