CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Food poverty fuelled by rising unemployment

Gospel Oak Primary School helps CNJ Aid Van with playground collecton

17 November, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

The Queen’s Crescent Community Association’s volunteer-run response to Covid-19

RISING unemployment across the borough is causing a new wave of chronic food poverty, say food aid hub staff and volunteers.

With the numbers of people losing their jobs in Camden rocketing by 145 per cent between March and August, demand at crisis centres has also reached record highs.

At the Queen’s Crescent Community Association, volunteers have been working flat out for nine months to help ease the worst effects of the sudden redundancies. They estimate they have served up at least 21,000 food parcels and meals since the spring.

The centre’s chief executive Foyezur Miah said: “The need has grown month by month, and people losing their jobs clearly has been the biggest impact.”

This week, the New Journal’s food aid van collected 250 chef-prepared curries from a central London restaurant to donate to Camden food hubs. Staff at the Punjab restaurant in Neal Street, Covent Garden, have been supporting our campaign by creating frozen meals for us to distribute.

Donations from Gospel Oak Primary School

The QCCA is on our list – and we also dropped round a van load of supplies provided by the children, staff and parents of nearby Gospel Oak primary school.

Mr Miah said: “People tell us about their circumstances. They tell us this meal we give them is the only hot meal they are getting. It is an expensive project for us to run, and we have lost 60 per cent of our income as we have no nursery or hall hire funds coming in – but we can’t turn people in need away.”

Gospel Oak school’s headteacher John Hayes said the whole school had rallied round when the New Journal contacted them just before half term about the possibility of a playground food collection.

He said: “We have had a lovely response. We placed two boxes outside the front entrance and got the message out to parents. It just rolled in, in bigger quantities than we imagined.”

The QCCA takes the latest donations to the CNJ Food Aid Van

During the first lockdown, the school had put together food parcels for their families and got vouchers to families eligible for free school meals – a number that makes up around 40 per cent of all pupils.

He added: “We spoke to the children about why the school is doing this, and about how important it is to look after each other.”

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