Coronavirus: Investment bankers extend funding for east London food banks over the school holidays
PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 June 2020
Bankers in the City are extending financial aid to foodbanks across east London for the next three months to cover the school holidays in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Three foodbanks in Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney and Newham now have guaranteed supplies until mid-September to tackle poverty caused by the Covid-19 emergency.
The supplies are being guaranteed by Investec bank and financial services organisation which is paying to distribute essential supplies to First Love in Poplar and the Trussell Trust in Beckton and Hackney.
First Love is having to cope with a colossal 700 per cent rise in food poverty cases over the last month, compared to this time last year.
“We have drastically transformed our entire operation as an emergency,” First Love’s Yasmine Patpatia revealed.
“This is to make sure we reach the most vulnerable and deprived people and deliver food door-to-door as safely and quickly as possible.
“We are needed more than ever in this extremely tough time and urgently need both food and distribution networks. The bank’s commitment supplying us with food has been a vital lifeline.”
But it involves more than money. The logistics needed to supply thousands of items every week through the Aldi supermarket chain distribution network is being coordinated by bank staff who’ve been volunteering their time since the community support programme began in April.
Investec’s Teresa O’Brien said: “We are able to extend support to these food banks by a further 12 weeks, as this period will cover the school holidays.”
The funding extension over the school holidays has been welcomed by Trussell Trust business director Melanie Rochford, acknowledging “much needed stability at a difficult time”.
She said: “It allows us to focus on essential support to those most vulnerable. “The Covid-19 pandemic has placed demand on our already over-stretched resources to support families below the poverty line.”
The volunteers are getting 15,500 items every week to each of the food banks in Poplar, Beckton and Hackney to feed the growing number of families relying on them, in many cases replacing free school meals.
They aim to make sure the foodbanks have more than they need to continue their work without worrying about resources.
First Love was set up in Poplar by management consultant Denise Bentley after recovering from a brain haemorrhage when she was 40.
She beat the 90 per cent chance of dying and went on to make a full recovery and vowed to “live less selfishly and help others”.
Denise, now 53, volunteered at first at the Crisis homeless charity in Whitechapel where she witnessed homeless people caught up in a cycle of despair “who seemed utterly defeated”.
She went on to set up her First Love Foundation and started the Tower Hamlets Foodbank in 2010 with help from the Trussell Trust.
Demand shot up 10-fold to 200 new referrals every month. Four out of every 10 people she helped were children in a deprived East End with the highest rate of child poverty in the land.
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