Social services handed out food donations over Christmas

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.

On Christmas day, volunteers served lunches to around 50 poor and vulnerable people at the CVA on London Road

On Christmas day, volunteers served lunches to around 50 poor and vulnerable people at the CVA on London Road

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.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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