By Alexandra Warren
A charity shop with a food bank in the basement has been opened to help vulnerable people after job losses and salary cuts meant the number of families it needed to feed surged from 30 to almost 5,000.
We Care Food Pantry has launched a permanent centre at 50 Friendly Street, Deptford to provide people with essentials such as food, toiletries and baby milk.
The project is funded by Kath’s Place, a charity shop above the food bank which sells clothes, books, records and bric-a-brac.
The hub also offers advice and support for people in the area who are struggling.
Raymond Woolford, co-founder of We Care, said: “We have been delighted with the way the community has come together to support this community project.
“People do not seem to realise that many in our community are self-employed or running small businesses with zero access to public funds or the magic money tree.
“Many are on low pay or getting huge cuts to their weekly or monthly wages, up to 30 per cent or 40 per cent, and this 30 per cent is often what people need for food.
“Our food pantry welcomes everyone struggling to put food on the table. You do not need to feel any shame seeking help and support.
“Winter and Christmas is going to be tough for all Londoners. We Care will step up to the mark and do our best to feed all people and their pets that seek our help this bleak Christmas.”
People can get a weekly shop for a small contribution each time and just a £1 membership fee per year, and it is not necessary to have a voucher or a referral.
The charity is not funded by the government or the council and runs on volunteers and donations.
The centre also runs a project to help people with high energy bills which have increased for many during lockdown.
The scheme aims to help reduce gas and electricity costs and, if they are successful, participants can earn £20 for taking part.
There are plans to add a community kitchen and cafe once funds have been raised.
The kitchen will be available for people who do not have access to somewhere to cook, with surplus food being sold in the cafe.
The charity has been extremely busy during lockdown, despite not having a base.
Sky-rocketing rents had pushed them out of their previous location in Deptford, so the operation was run out of people’s kitchens and front rooms over the summer.
Job losses and salary cuts meant that the service went from feeding around 30 families to almost 5000.
Delivery drivers were matched with a household who they would deliver to every week in order to build a relationship and support.
Recipients include refugees and the elderly as well as those whose children were no longer given a meal each day at school.
We Care was founded in 2014 as a grassroots independent food bank and part of the Kath Dugan Equality & Civil Rights Network.
Pictured top: Ray Woolford
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