Investec expands funding for meals banks in east London


City bankers are giving Foodbanks financial support to food banks across east London over the next three months to cover the post-coronavirus school holidays.

Volunteers “social distancing” at the Trussel Trust food bank in the community center of St. Mark’s Church in Beckton. Image: Trussel Trust
– Credit: Trussel Trust

Three food banks in Tower Hamlets and in neighboring Hackney and Newham have now guaranteed supplies until mid-September in order to fight the poverty caused by the Covid-19 emergency.

Shipments are guaranteed by Investec Bank and the financial services organization, who pay for the distribution of essential shipments to First Love in Poplar and the Trussell Trust in Beckton and Hackney.

First Love is dealing with a whopping 700 percent increase in food poverty cases last month compared to this time last year.

“We’ve made a dramatic change to our entire operation as an emergency,” revealed First Love’s Yasmine Patpatia.

Aerold Bentley, co-founder of First Love Foodbank, on the delivery itself ... the charity is taking Foo

Aerold Bentley, co-founder of First Love Foodbank, on delivery itself … the charity provides 400 families with groceries totaling four tons of groceries! Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas
– Photo credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas

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“This is to ensure that we reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people and that we deliver food from door to door as safely and quickly as possible.

“We are needed more than ever in these extremely difficult times and urgently need both food and distribution networks. The bank’s commitment to providing us with groceries was an important lifeline. “

But it’s about more than money. The logistics needed to deliver thousands of items each week through the Aldi supermarket chain’s distribution network is coordinated by bank staff who have volunteered for their time since the community support program began in April.

Teresa O’Brien of Investec said, “We can support these food banks for an additional 12 weeks as that period covers the school holidays.”

Aerold Bentley delivers food to people in poverty or imprisonment.  Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas

Aerold Bentley delivers food to people in poverty or imprisonment. Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas
– Photo credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas

The extension of funds during the school holidays was welcomed by Melanie Rochford, Managing Director of Trussell Trust, who acknowledged that there is “much needed stability at a difficult time”.

She said, “It allows us to focus on providing essential support to the most vulnerable. “The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged our already overstretched resources to support families below the poverty line.”

Volunteers receive 15,500 items each week to each of the food banks in Poplar, Beckton and Hackney to feed the growing number of families who depend on them and, in many cases, replace free school meals.

You want to make sure that the food banks have more than they need to get on with their jobs without worrying about resources.

First Love was founded by business consultant Denise Bentley in Poplar after she recovered from a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 40.

She passed the 90 percent chance of death and made a full recovery, vowing to “live less selfishly and help others.”

Denise, 53, initially volunteered for the Crisis Homeless Charity in Whitechapel, where she witnessed homeless people embroiled in a cycle of desperation “that seemed utterly defeated”.

She set up her First Love Foundation and, with the help of the Trussell Trust, founded the Tower Hamlets Foodbank in 2010.

The demand increased tenfold every month to 200 new recommendations. Four out of ten people she helped were children in a deprived East End with the highest child poverty rate in the country.