We are the Shields, a Black + Brown family living in Southeast London with backgrounds and experience ranging from banking to education to events. Now, our day-to-day looks very different to what it did at the end of 2021.
We home educate our two young children and Jason is also a trainer at Power the Fight working to end youth violence. We knew that there was a greater purpose to our transition this year and began to realise that we had been working towards this all along.
It's actually taken 7 years for this idea to really find its true meaning and purpose, but we are finally here, and it all makes sense. Taking a good look around us, post-pandemic has meant not turning a blind eye to the reality of the situation we are all in. The community we are a part of is lacking, malnourished in many ways, unsupported by the systems with very little chance of thriving. Jason wrote on a 'Pandemic within the Pandemic' in 2020 which speaks on issues of race that have affected Black and Brown communities for decades. Unless something is done differently in our area, things will not just stay the same - but in fact worsen for people who are used to surviving.
The space we are opening will be based in a very diverse area within the Lewisham borough, which recent community research has shown to have a high level of deprivation, under funding, growing mental health issues and child poverty. The full report can be found here.
Other research findings show that:
- People are still experience loneliness and desire friendship post-pandemic.
- Ethnic minorities are significantly overrepresented among people needing support from food banks with 1 in 10 (9%) being referred to Trussell Trust food banks while only making up 3% of the UK population.
- There is limited indoor provision for families in the area.
So, what will practically make a difference?
We have designed a third space, free for local families to attend involving plenty of play for under 8s. A family supper club will follow, which all will be welcome to stay for. The sessions will run after school and will allow families to be in a space with others connecting, playing and eating. As many of us know, the cost of living crisis is having major effects - this project aims to provide some relief to busy families once a week.
However, we want to see a deep transformation in our borough that goes beyond a meal at the supper club. Our community is comprised of resilient, proud, and courageous people who want the means to provide for themselves and make a better life for their families without having to rely on handouts. We know that cultural barriers to charity and local services do exist. These require cultural sensitivity, relationship building and innovation to allow the families who deserve the support to be able to access it.
Philo will be an equitable space, free to attend and within walking distance of local schools in the area. Philo will aim to bridge the gap by communicating to families in need about how local external agencies can support them.
None of us want our neighbours to get to a crisis point so while we can open our doors, and be inside with one another and eat together – let's do it.
Although many of us are back to our normal routines, some of us even busier than we were before, we must acknowledge that society lost something vital in the pandemic. Many families have had to do a lot of what the wider community would have naturally supported them with, entirely on their own. That is not how it's meant to be.
We would love to be able to run these sessions between November 2022 - July 2023 - yes, launching in just a month's time!
We want to bring this project to you, the wider community and ask for your help, so we can open this space and make it completely free to attend, once a week to local families.
The total amount we need to raise to do this is £12,600. These funds will enable us to:
- Rent a venue weekly to run the sessions (within walking distance of local schools)
- Prepare and serve free nutritious African, Caribbean, and South Asian meals for the weekly supper club
- Provide healthy after school snacks and refreshments for children and adults
- Create a culturally diverse reading area
- Build a play space for 0-8s with toys that will help develop social skills, sensory activities and games from around the world to help develop critical thinking skills
- Provide relevant training for play and kitchen volunteers
- Connect families to external agencies in the borough (e.g. support with additional needs, housing, therapeutic services)
- Utilise local storage and transportation
If you’re interested in volunteering, we are building our kitchen and play teams so get in touch at [email protected] and we’ll get back to you.
We are so grateful for your support. Stay updated with our progress here and on our IG. Let's do something different!
Love, The Shields