The borough’s mutual aid organisation that was set-up at the start of the coronavirus emergency, has now produced an updated map of food banks and soup kitchens which they hope will help “the unsung heroes of this crisis” – the volunteers operating Croydon’s food relief schemes.
The pandemic lockdown has proved challenging for Croydon’s food banks and soup kitchens. The numbers seeking help from these services has increased at exactly the point that goods donations have fallen. A reduction in the number of volunteers due to illness or self-isolation has added further challenges.
The interactive map – it is clickable, to reveal phone numbers and addresses, and what the schemes can offer clients or require from donors – allows residents to identify their nearest food bank or soup kitchen. With the contact details provided, those in need can refer themselves for help. Residents can also find out how, and where, to make donations.
As the crisis continues Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid and Croydon Voluntary Action are convening fortnightly meetings of Croydon’s food banks and soup kitchens to better coordinate support.
Social distancing rules have changed the way services like food banks operate, with many now offering a delivery system to those seeking support. By linking clients to their nearest service, the map can help ensure people donate goods or receive help from as close to home as possible, limiting the need to travel.
“This map is super-helpful because we can be more coordinated across the borough and ensure that we aren’t over-stretching our resources in terms of supporting people who may be some distance from our project but could be helped by a closer organisation,” said Laura Whittall, of the South Norwood Community Kitchen.
“It helps for a more joined-up approach, so we can fill the gaps where there might be a lack of help in some areas of Croydon. It is also just great to see who is doing what where and reach out to other projects to share best practice and support.”
CCMA organiser Rowenna Davis said: “Our foodbank leaders are the unsung heroes of this crisis. Every day they are putting themselves at risk to help feed people in need, mostly for no pay and without PPE.
“Hopefully this map can help them work together more easily. If you’re someone who needs help, you can use the map to find your nearest foodbank. If you want to do something to help, why not use the map to find your nearest foodbank taking volunteers?”
CCMA is inviting any food banks, soup kitchens or similar projects not yet on the map to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion.
CCMA continues to operate its borough-wide helpline on 020 3322 8379, aimed at giving residents without internet access a vital means of reaching out for help.
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