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Coronavirus: New Journal helps emergency food deliveries

The CNJ is not just reporting on the coronavirus crisis - it is joining the community's attempts to fight back together

02 April, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

The CNJ’s Dan Carrier helps Monsoon’s Fozor Ali deliver free meals

THE New Journal this week continued to play its part in the relief efforts for people struggling to get food and those at risk of isolation this week as we took our aid van around the borough.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began we have been actively linking people who want to help with donations to those facing hardship.

Following the precautions for making emergency drops, we have called at a series of homes where some of our readers have been in desperate need of help.

This week we:

  • Collected donations of bread from Gail’s bakery and took them to the England’s Lane hostel in Belsize Park;
  • Provided supplies to the Streets Kitchen group helping the homeless, which used the donations in emergency kitchens set up in the Gilgamesh bar in Camden Town;
  • Helped the London Irish Centre with deliveries to elderly residents living on their own;
  • Made stops at the Arlington House hostel in Camden Town;
  • Helped the Highgate Newtown Community Centre’s crisis centre;
  • Left food packages for individuals identified as in need of desperate help;
  • Joined the free curry run organised by Monsoon, a restaurant sending food to families who normally use free school meals;
  • Rustled up dinners in reporters’ own homes for delivery across the borough.

Our deliveries are part of the newspaper’s attempts to physically join the vast challenge of helping people stuck at home or suddenly with no money, where it is safe to do so. While the New Journal is not immune to the financial challenges that the coronavirus is bringing to the newspaper industry, we can use our long established links in Camden to help connect the community.


And, on the ground, we’ve been helping voluntary groups across the borough who are organising operations to help.

Bob Dowd, who worked for children’s charities before retiring two years ago, has negotiated food donations with supermarkets that have helped form part of our emergency bags sent to charities and individuals. Streets Kitchen took in a van-load of supplies and began serving aubergine and broccoli curry, stir fries and soups to the hungry. Ruth Cornery and Mark Bloom from Highgate Newtown have also helped keep up stocks on our deliveries.

Jessica Gjinne from Gail’s and, below, Rachel Lipsitz from Streets Kitchen collects supplies

Bread and pastries from bakery chain Gail’s were taken to hostels and the London Irish Centre.

There was an emotional response when we stopped at Arlington House as the van pulled and up and we handed over trays of bread and ready meals. “Please make sure you write this down in the paper – we are so very thankful for the help and support of your readers,” said one resident.

If you are a food business with too much stock we can help you get it to key places. We have had scores of people referred to us by readers and ad hoc neighbourhood groups that have formed in the crisis.

Bob Dowd and, below, Rainford Bowley at Think And Do

The H&H vehicle hire firm has donated a van, while film company Fulwell 73 has helped with fuel. To ensure no one is forgotten we have teamed up with Mutual Aid groups running in each ward and a string of charities who are working on the relief effort, many of whom may get help from Camden Giving.

Child minder Rainford Bowley has set up a food depot at the Think And Do community cafe in Kentish Town Road. He has sourced some supplies from people working for caterers at King’s Cross station that now have more food than they need.

The New Journal helped him deliver food that would normally be consumed by first-class rail passengers. He said: “When the trains stopped running frequently, Think and Do had set up a community kitchen in the past, so it fitted well.”

Reporters cooked some extra dinners to be heated up by people in need

While the community spirit has been uplifting, the tales of desperation on the road show the levels of distress this crisis is causing.

One family of three living in temporary accommodation has lost all its income and have nothing but a borrowed microwave. It is not a unique case. We left extra portions of dinners made by our reporters there and elsewhere.

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