The borough’s food bank has opened a new collection point at Hammersmith Town Hall as part of a big push to support local food banks as well as attack the causes of food poverty.
The council plans to open several more collection points in the coming year as part of its work to support Hammersmith & Fulham Food Bank, an independent charity, affiliated with the Trussell Trust.
The council has also funded an advice worker to provide in-depth problem solving casework for vulnerable clients, as well as supporting food bank volunteers to identify other sources of support and help. This is designed to attack the causes of food poverty so that they don’t find themselves needing to return in the future.
The borough’s food bank will be five years old on Monday and demand is as high as ever. The charity has helped about 90 people per week in the past fortnight, including children, and regularly supports about 250 to 400 people every month.
Councillor Sue Fennimore, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, said: "Food banks are a product of the challenging circumstances that far too many H&F residents now face. We are determined to do what we can as a council to prevent people needing to use food banks, but while they do we are proud that so many residents have stepped forward to provide this critical support.
“We are doing everything we can to support these efforts and I hope this new collection point will help even more residents donate the food and supplies which sadly some residents badly need.”
People assessed as needing the support of the foodbank are referred by local organisations and services, such as children’s centres, voluntary organisations, GPs, social workers and the borough’s citizens’ advice bureau using a voucher system. Enough food for 10 meals is provided at a time, as well as other essentials such as toiletries.
H&F Council is working to promote the take-up of vouchers among residents in need, as well as highlighting the ways residents can donate. It is working to provide a distribution point for the charity in the north of the borough adding to the two currently running in Shepherds Bush and Fulham.
H&F Food Bank founder and manager Daphine Aikens, said: The least we can do is ensure people’s basic needs are met. Providing someone with a food pack is our way of providing this help to any borough resident who needs it.
“Nobody should go without food or any necessary items of survival. We’re there to meet that need.”
She said regular donations are vitally important, and added: “Everything donated is given out to someone in crisis in the borough but if we don’t have what’s needed, we can’t give it out.
“People come to us for all sorts of reasons. They might be working full time but can’t afford to buy a school uniform for their child and eat at the same time, they might be domestic violence victims or a family man whose wages haven't changed while all of his household expenses have risen in cost.
“We see people in the most extreme situations on an almost daily basis.”
About 30 people man the drop in centre where food and supplies are handed out, with other volunteers working behind the scenes.
As well as Hammersmith Town Hall, food and other essentials can be dropped off at the following sites across the borough: Budgens, Munster Road; Tesco, Shepherds Bush Rd; Sainsburys, Townmead Rd; Sainsburys, Fulham Broadway Shopping Centre; Halifax Building Society, King Street; Waitrose, Parsons Green; Waitrose North End Road; Waitrose, Westfield; Askew Road Library, Askew Road; Shepherds Bush Library, Wood lane; Hammersmith Library, Shepherds Bush Road and Fulham Library, Fulham Road.
Visit the Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank website for more details including a list of items the charity is currently most in need of.
The council’s action plan to tackle food poverty will be discussed at the Health, Adult Social Care and Social Inclusion Policy and Accountability Committee. Residents are welcome to attend the meeting in Hammersmith Town Hall on July 7 at 7pm.