Ray Barron-Woolford and colleagues at Kath’s Place

Today at We Care Food Bank at Kath’s Place in Deptford we had a visit from a local resident, Jim, a really wonderful elderly gent who, through family and health crises, had spent many years homeless on the street.  But, thanks to the kindness of strangers, he had been given a housing association flat in Lewisham.

Before Christmas he dropped by our community hub and charity shop. He had a low income and he wanted to buy presents for his elderly mum, friends who had supported him, presents he had not been in a position to give, before finding his forever home. He sought our advice, and we matched him with a wonderful real stone necklace for his mum, a selection of books for other family and friends, plus some bric a brac retro items. He bought the lot for under £5. His family have not had a present from him in years and he came to thank us and tell us how much the presents he bought at Kath’s Place were so loved. In conversation, as he was leaving he said, “I don’t have much money at the moment but when I do I will drop by again.”

We Care Food Bank this week is full of fresh fruit and veg, meat, milk, bread etc, so we asked him if he would be so kind as to take a loaf of bread and a few things we had spare which were needing a home to go to. We filled a bag with bread, meat, lots of fruit and veg with some carrots on the top. Two minutes after he had left our community hub, he arrived back in tears and told us that yesterday he had been walking around Brockley and he found a wonderful pressure cooker but, due to his low income, he had no money to buy anything to put in the pot. This was a treasure he had longed for and yet at the moment he was too poor to use it. He had thought to himself that, when he could, he would buy some potatoes and carrots to make something special. Having left Kath’s Place he noticed the carrots sticking out of the bag we gave him, and it all became too much for him .

Jim is not his name. We have not used his real name out of respect, but this is a real, true story, one of many that happen every day at We Care at Kath’s Place. Our work is only made possible by the kindness of strangers, our awesome community who refuse to allow anyone in our area to go hungry; the woman who comes in once a month, spends 50 pence and secretly slips £20 into the donation box; the young woman just made redundant who once a month drops by to pay the food pantry shop of another young woman in crisis, both strangers but both supporting each other through this crisis; the stranger who set up a bank standing order to pay £20 into our We Care account, and we are clueless as to who they are, so cannot thank them.

Then we have our team of volunteers who make the magic of kindness happen and our new team members who have joined Toni and me on our community’s frontline during this crisis. There is also Sue who sorts our designer labels as well as your donation sacks.

Other volunteers include Elli who has just joined us to help us sell our quality stock online, to help generate cash that we are losing from people NOT coming to shop at Kath’s Place. There’s Giorgio who created a photo studio on our stairway to showcase our stock ready for Tinted 7 Bepop. Dylan is an extraordinary Black woman who has joined us in the shop, whilst also looking after one of our mums who was recently made redundant with three kids to feed whilst having to shield at home alone, and there’s new Deptford resident Ruth who has just moved to London and made Deptford her home. Our team has also been joined by Shixuan, a young woman student from mainland China studying at Goldsmiths. 

The ITV flagship programme, ITV Tonight, featured our work in a 30 minute show with Marcus Rashford on 11th February. The film about our work was shot during lockdown. FEEDING LEWISHAM won international film awards and, whilst we are delighted we have been given the Lewisham Mayor’s award for services to the people of Lewisham, we still have not received one penny from the government or a cent from the £1.8 million the government gave Lewisham council some time ago to help grassroots organisations like us on the frontline. This led us to sending in a freedom of information request to find out where all this money is going, because we are not aware of any organisation we work with getting any funding. This is why we all have to ask for donations to fund our work and buy the food.

We Care gets NO government or council funding and depends on the donations.  Community’s Story is the film we made during the first lockdown, so you can see how important our work is and why we need your help. Enjoy this short film, and, if you think we are worthy, please donate to support our work as every day is a struggle to survive whilst the demands on the services we offer have never been more needed. Please donate if you can. 

Feeding Lewisham in February featured us in the flagship ITV Tonight programme with Marcus Rashford as part of this 30-minute feature about the changing demands of Food Bank Britain. Please make your purchases at Kath’s place, donate on our website or in our shop donation box or think about setting up a monthly donation to We Care: Cooperative Bank account sort code 08-92-99 account number 65659328. 

Needless to say, NONE of the We Care team are paid, every penny goes to support these projects and the building that we must have in order to operate. While we can pay the rent, we need the security to operate a service that should be offered, paid and run by the council, but sadly in the real world it’s left to us and you to save lives and ensure our neighbours and their kids and pets eat at least one meal a day. How would you cope if your income was cut by 30%?

We Care At Kath’s Place, 50 Friendly Street, Deptford, opened on October 1, 2020, (after running since 2014 from a network of people’s homes and gardens) as a community hub, Internet support, charity shop, support, legal and consumer law advice centre, as well as a base for its We Care Food Bank, the largest Independent Food Bank, the only one in the UK open seven days a week offering food that reflects people’s dietary needs and everything from sanitary towels to nappies, washing powder and loo roll. We support people in work who, due to Covid, have seen a 30% cut in their monthly wage, cash they would usually count on to buy food, and gets NO government or council funding. We depend on the kindness of strangers donating with YOUR help .

Tackling climate change and finding solutions to poverty and waste are not new to Kath’s Place. One project we offer saves parents £400-£600 a year, money they usually spend on disposable nappies that damage the planet and further keep low-income households in poverty. We Care at Kath’s Place is one of the rare places in the UK parents can for just £5 (free if you use We Care Food Bank ) buy bamboo nappies that do not need a washing machine, are biodegradable, look fantastic and with a pop button system which grows with the baby, so one nappy can be used safely for the entire nappy cycle of a baby

The crisp packet project also needs your help, so can you collect and drop crisp packets at Kath’s Place Deptford? Could you set up a project in YOUR school, YOUR community? it needs little space and little funds in global terms to get started.

This is the reality for so many people in the present crisis. Rents are so high in our area that people in work do not have enough cash to pay the rent and, probably for the first time in their lives, are having to trade a visit to their local coffee shop for a visit to the We Care Food Bank and Food Pantry for help, advice, support and solidarity. Embarrassed and even ashamed, but even more desperate and distraught that their kids are going hungry, mums tell us that they can go days without food, and, on average, it takes people at least a week of going hungry before they finally come through our doors and ask for help. We really do need your donation.

We would also ask that you buy from the Community Hub at Kath’s Place Deptford or buy ethical gifts, fashion , books from www.kathduncan-equality-civilrights-network.co.uk.

Since We Care was launched as the UK’s largest independent food bank and advice and support hub in Lewisham in 2014, it has always ensured that, during school holidays, children and the hungry families they come from do not have to worry about putting food on the table. We truly need your help to feed the new wave of people and pets from across London who are in crisis and will be coming through our doors at Kath’s Place, 50 Friendly Street, Deptford SE8 4DR.

Today rising costs and demands for help are putting the nation’s independent food banks at real risk of closure. No one wants to talk about the crisis facing food banks in Britain, but, if we are forced to close our doors through lack of cash to run our fridges or buy our tins of beans, who will be left to feed the millions across Britain who today depend upon the volunteers who run our food banks with zero government or council funding?  

Please donate at https://kathduncan-equality-civilrights-network.co.uk/


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