CNJ food aid van: Help us make sure nobody goes hungry again
Our newspaper must take an active role in the coronavirus community response
16 October, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
Construction firm Murphy have given us use of one of their vans to help deliver food to those who are unable to access meals during the coronavirus crisis
THE New Journal’s food aid van is ready to help deliver food across the borough as Camden braces itself for another wave of coronavirus and more daily restrictions.
Volunteers and charities across the borough, including foodbanks and mutual aid groups, are already warning that calls for help are already increasing, while there remains anxiety among the vulnerable about how they will access meals.
We have kept on delivering and helping organisations throughout the summer but will step up our efforts, if and when, Covid-19 measures become tighter. Construction firm Murphy in Kentish Town hs provided us with our van to carry on deliveries.
And we ask now asking primary schools whether they can work with us to replicate a project a Brookfield School in Highgate Newtown which has provided a perfect way for neighbours to help pass on food to those in need. We have been involved with the parents and teachers association and a weekly harvest festival-style collection has seen people drop off tins of food and other useful items.
The New Journal aid van has then taken some of these donations to food banks. If other schools want to work with us too, we will be happy to help make sure any collections do not go to waste.
The New Journal working to help deliver food with the council and Arsenal earlier in the pandemic
The New Journal won awards earlier in the pandemic for playing an active role in food aid – rather than simply reporting on the pandemic.
On Monday evening, charities and organisations from across Camden told a full council meeting how they had played their part in trying to meet food poverty head on.
This week, a call came through to the office on Tuesday which underlined why the newspaper got involved.
Mrs A, who lives in a council-owned block in the south Camden, is severely disabled; her identity is protected for obvious reasons. She has a full-time carer – but this week her carer fell ill and had a positive Covid test. It means the two of them are self isolating in her flat, and have been unable to get any food delivered.
The New Journal van later arrived with ingredients and meals to help get them through. “We started running low and have tried to get a supermarket to come round, but they have no slots for three days,” she said. “Getting a delivery from the New Journal was beautiful. “We are in a bubble together – and he has fallen ill, so it has been even harder than usual.”
Readers like Mrs A have turned to us when they are struggling – and her plight is mirrored across Camden.
In recent weeks, we have continued with weekly deliveries for the London Irish Centre, supported the food projects at the Highgate Newtown and Castehaven community centres, and delivered groceries to vulnerable people identified as needing help by the JW3 in Finchley Road.
Volunteer Bob Dowd said: “We are seeing another rise in demand. As infections rise, the need rises, as sure as night follows day.”
Karishma Puri, who set up the Kentish Town Mutual Aid group, said: “I think people feel quite exhausted by helping out. We have been thinking about how we can effectively support existing structures, perhaps managed by the council, rather than the more ad hoc nature of the first mutual aid work we did.”
Mags O’Reilly, who has been co-ordinating the Highgate Newtown Community Centre’s Covid emergency response centre, said: “We are bracing ourselves for the end of October. We have new people who have been made redundant coming for food parcels. We are busy and it is slowly getting busier. As guidance changes regarding people who need to shelter, we’ll have to deliver more.”
Camden Council said, as part of the community effort, it had helped provide over 442,500 meals to residents, 46,000 meals in schools and delivered 13,000 free school meal parcels to families alongside local charities, community groups and volunteers amid the crisis.
l If you need help or are a school that wants to help collect food with the CNJ, email dan@ camdennewjournal.co.uk