Food donations made by Croydon Council staff for the poor and vulnerable over Christmas were distributed directly by local social services ahead of the holiday break, sources have confirmed to Inside Croydon.
Croydon Council’s annual charity food collection was previously highlighted by Inside Croydon here.
The inappropriateness of staging the collection as a “competition” seems lost on our council’s six-figure salaried execs, as did the bitter irony that staff in the department within Croydon’s £140 million new headquarters offices which collected the most food donations would be rewarded with… a food hamper.
Few would argue with providing food aid directly to those in greatest need. But it is surely signal of the dire poverty and need of some of the most vulnerable in Croydon in the 21st century that our local authority’s social services department is having to hand out food donations.
The Croydon Food Network, which works together with the council and was due to receive the food donations, is relatively relaxed about social services’ involvement in the aid distribution.
“We have known about this,” one charity volunteer told Inside Croydon. “Some amount of the food collected was set aside for the social services department for families they know to be in greatest need.
“We get most of our referrals from social services, so if social services decide that they have food that can help someone, in the end it doesn’t matter much whether they give it to them, or that we do. And if they decide that’s how they want to distribute the donations they have received, it’s not our prerogative to say otherwise,” the volunteer said.
On Christmas day, the Croydon Food Network cooked and served Christmas lunch for 50 people at the CVA building on London Road.
Following the festive generosity of December, the Network faces the grim winter months of early 2014 when the need for food relief continues undiminished. Finding somewhere dry, secure and safe to store donations is a continuing problem, and getting assistance to transport donated food around the borough is another.
And despite the Food Network regularly working closely with Croydon Council in providing some food aid, the volunteers feel that the council’s full-time staff ought to be able to provide a less bureaucratic approach. “There’s a lot of emphasis on our jumping through hoops that they have created,” our source said. “They seem to forget we’re just volunteers, not some corporate entity.”
The need for public help continues. “It shouldn’t just be at Christmas that those who can make donations of food,” the volunteer said. “The need for food banks and other help continues through the year, and we have had more clients approach us in recent months than ever before.”
- Croydon Nightwatch was Inside Croydon’s designated charity at Christmas 2013. Find out how you can help by visiting their website
- How did your Croydon MP vote when parliament was asked to reveal a government report on food banks?
- Food Bank Britain 2013: some uncomfortable truths
Coming to Croydon
- STDLCC Screening: Wolf Children, Jan 6
- STDLCC Screening: Museum Hours, Jan 13
- “Croydon Communities Consortium” meeting, Jan 14
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Jan 16
- STDLCC Screening: The East, Jan 20
- STDLCC Screening: Winter Nomads, Jan 27
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
- Post your comments on this article below.
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org