Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society has been providing an emergency COVID-19 community response since 2nd April 2020, currently we are supporting - 280 people every week within the Somers Town area in Camden. Just under half of our beneficiaries are children and 70% are BAME; predominantly Somali and Bengali. We do this by providing food parcels that are culturally appropriate and based on the idea of “Request what you Eat, Eat what you Request” (adapted from the food waste prevention ‘Buy what you Eat, Eat what you Buy’ ideology) - a volunteer will spend 10-15 minutes on the phone per family, making up their parcel, asking them what they need that week.
Please help us to raise monies to keep feeding and supporting local families until December.
Having such close contact with the families, week after week, allows us to meet their other urgent needs through social prescriptions – this means at the height of lockdown we made many referrals, on their behalf, to our two key partners – the Welfare rights team at Camden Council and Volunteer Action Camden for support applying for universal credit, the self-employed retention scheme and the council’s hardship fund. As their needs changed we were also able to provide referrals for mental health support. We were then able to provide support for the children by acquiring donations for activity books including books on how to deal with anxiety and increasing self-esteem. We very much use our food parcels as a vehicle for ongoing support: each week we are providing information and resources; for example; local work opportunities, local activities for children, developments in the local area, resources for reducing utility bills, etc.
Currently we are in the midst of organising a "summer school" for local children on a shoestring budget in a bid to get them active, to increase their confidence in socialising and to help them catch up academically. To include: Non-contact football, BAME bookclub, Catch-up GCSE's Maths, Art Workshop, Non-contact kickboxing.
For parents and other adults, we have now partnered with two local job hubs to provide employability referrals for many of our beneficiaries who are also ‘gig’ economy workers who are facing increased financial hardship.
We have also switched the majority of our food parcels from deliveries thanks to volunteer drivers to collections by beneficiaries from the centre in order to encourage local parents to venture out as shielding has ended. To help make this possible we have provided those that didn't have them, their own shopping trolleys as a form of empowerment and independence. For those less able bodied we have kept them on deliveries. Again only made possible thanks to our amazing volunteers.
This is very much about helping to get a community back on its feet. In short we are continuously adapting to the needs of our beneficiaries by ‘Listening and Responding’.
(We never hesitated as a Community Benefit Society to shift our services to meet the needs of the local community. In the space of 2 weeks we went from providing hands-on nutrition and cooking classes to providing this emergency response to those directly affected by COVID-19.)
Now we are coming to you for support. Currently it costs us £1,120 a week to buy supplies to feed our 280 beneficiaries, which is only £4.00 per person for a week, or £16 for a family of four.
How have we have managed to keep this cost effective? By sourcing food surplus and being supported by two team members and an amazing group of local volunteers. So far, we have been able to do this thanks to monetary donations, in-kind donations and physical donations from local residents, local businesses and organisations such as The Crick, Regent's Place, Candi United, Tricky Period, Camden New Journal, Little Village, Phoenix Court, Story Garden (Global Generations), Knowledge Quarter, Wilmott Dixon, Heatherwick Studios, Tesco (Cally road), Euston Foodbank, Ramadan Tent Project, Alara Wholefoods, Bookers (Camley Street), Kentish Town Vegbox, wholesale prices from Earth (Kentish Town), We go Courier (Provided by Camden Council), Parking Exemptions for our volunteer drivers thanks to Camden Council, PACE nurseries, National Literacy Trust (Regent's Place), Pestle & Mortar (for Vitamin D.), Lush, Kindness Offensive, Somers Town Big Local (£1,279), Camden Giving (2nd Wave £5,000) and members of the Camden wide mutual aid groups, but as furlough comes to an end there is a growing uncertainty. More and more of our beneficiaries are informing us that they are being made redundant. Which is why we need to continue to provide this service until at least December. This will allow us, through our employability partnerships, to help them find new employment, whilst reducing the stress around feeding their families, as each parcel we provide reduces their household food bill by £20-30 and provides consistent socioeconomic support.
Please help us to support local beneficiaries, because our community is only as strong as its most vulnerable members. As we are pushed to get back to life in the 'new' normal - back to the office, eating in restaurants, shopping again - this isn't possible for our families. For them, they risk being forgotten. But as a local community we are coming together and fighting for them.
(Behind the scenes we are already working on the creation of a local community fridge and larder, with social prescriptions, as part of our exit strategy from November onwards.)
Why do we need £42,206?
5 month supply of food supplies and sundry items £24,266
(£1120 per week for 5 months = £24,266)
5 month core funding and 15% overheads £17,940
Core funding – staffing costs for 5 months:
- 20 hours/week for Operations manager (actually works about 60 hours a week)
- 20 hours/wk for Volunteer and Supplies coordinator (new role to support above)
- 10 hours/wk Communications
- 10 hours/wk Centre coordinator
15% overheads – what we need to function as a society:
- NI contributions
- Software subscriptions
- Office supplies
- Accountancy fees
You can read our data impact report here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Tai9Hn4SjhMysfA1f3tOBEsF4UjN_14rWUXbXtR5xKE/