Tackling food poverty in Brent

21 January 2021

Summary: As demand for the vital support foodbanks provide increases, MTVH is partnering with a local charity in Brent, North-West London, to tackle food poverty and empower those who are facing financial hardship.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has seen a drastic increase in the demand for food banks across the country. Sadly, people who were already more likely to facing challenges before the pandemic have been hit hardest, including people on low incomes, refugee and asylum seeking families, the elderly and people with physical and mental health challenges, amongst others. There has also been a challenge of many people who need support the most not having access to information about how to get the support they need.

That’s why MTVH has partnered with Sufra NW London, who are working closely with partner organisations in Brent to connect with people in urgent need and to make referrals for vital support.

During December, MTVH and Sufra collaborated on a Christmas response for MTVH residents in Brent. On Christmas Day, Sufra delivered a Christmas meal and gift vouchers to 63 MTVH residents. The Christmas hampers and meals was the only chance to enjoy Christmas for many of the recipients.

MTVH resident, Janet said:
“The Christmas meal went down lovely. My children were all excited, they only wanted you to take out the brussels sprouts the next time, typical for the children. The meal was very nice, but also the presents and the small parfum sample. It took a lot of pressure off from cooking on Christmas Day and we had enough food for the children to take seconds. It was a good help all around.”

MTVH resident, Ann said:
“I was put in touch with Sufra, I didn’t have to do a lot they contacted me and provided me with a meal on Christmas Day. The Christmas meal and the juice were very nice. I am not a big eater, so I made it last over 2 days. It changed Christmas for me, I am on my own and I wouldn’t have eaten otherwise. People suffer in silence, without knowing that these services are available. It is absolutely unbelievable and well worth it. Small things in life make a big difference for some people. Great job and great service, Thank you.”

Sufra NW London, is a local Brent charity established in 2013 to address both the causes and the consequences of impoverishment in the community. Sufra provides a lifeline to people in crisis across the borough, and their core work focuses on providing emergency food aid through their food bank and community kitchen. Between March and August last year, Sufra provided over 19,000 food bank parcels and currently deliver between 1,300-1,400 nutritious hot meals every week. For many, this is their only access to fresh food. Sufra has experienced a 371% increase in demand for food aid compared to the same period last year and expects a further increase in the challenging months ahead of us.

One of MTVH’s Resident Connectors made the first referral to Sufra back in June 2020 and since then, approximately 10 more MTVH residents have been referred. The positive change Sufra has made to lives of MTVH residents has determined Regional Community Coordinator, Lieneke Eleveld, to start further collaboration conversations with Sufra. Lieneke said:

“People are using food banks more than ever and for longer periods due to the pandemic. It has put a lot of people in vulnerable positions, even more so on those who were already struggling. The valuable service Sufra and their hardworking volunteers provides has had a huge impact on the lives of so many people including some of our residents and we’re proud to be working with them to support and empower our communities.”

Sufra’s Logistics & Volunteer Coordinator, Nina Parmar said:
“The pandemic coupled with usual pressures that come with winter created the perfect storm, leaving so many families unable to consider celebrating Christmas and many individuals alone and isolated, after a year of much of the same. We were so pleased to partner with MTVH on two amazing projects – luxury Christmas hampers and Christmas dinners (with all the trimmings!). The support from MTVH meant that we were able to create a brighter Christmas for hundreds of people. Throughout all the preparations, and especially on Christmas day as dozens of volunteers prepped, cooked, organised and delivered the meals – it really felt like we were part of something incredibly special.”