Food banks are on the frontline of this crisis delivering food parcels to the elderly, vulnerable and those self isolating.
They need an army of volunteers like local residents Ife Oguntokun and Rossella Scalia – to help with the vast increase in demand on their services.
Elim Pentecostal Church has set up a hub in its church building in Mersham Road and are working alongside medical centres, volunteer organisations and MP Steve Reed. It is offering help with food parcels, picking up shopping, prescription collection, a phone call to cheer you up, a prayer to lift your spirt or anything else to help residents
Thornton Heath resident Ife, who is a creative working in TV production and in between jobs saw the appeal for help on Twitter and is putting together food parcels ready for delivery.
Self-employed Rossella who lives on Bensham Lane, and normally designs marketing campaigns for small businesses; responded to an appeal on the social networking site Nextdoor and has been out delivering leaflets to local residents advertising for help and asking for food donations.
Mother and son Jennifer and Christopher Allen arrived on foot at the church door with two bags of donations containing much needed tins, pasta and biscuits. Wearing face masks mum Jennifer explained that Christopher, aged nine, was a premature baby at 25 weeks and has problems with his lungs which is why they were both wearing masks and being so careful.
Food banks have become an essential part of our economy in recent times as more and more people find themselves trapped in low income jobs or having to exist on government benefits but now they being stretched even further to help even more people facing uncertainty and food poverty as a result of Co-Vid19.
Each morning volunteers go out in the Alive Community Centre Food Bank van collecting food from Aldi, Tesco, M&S food and Waitrose. The collection is arranged by two national charities Fairshare and Neighbourly , the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors.
Elim also collect from some Co-op stores and are in discussions explains Pastor at the church for 20 years Nick Gray with Sainsbury’s in Streatham to take extra food to distribute during the Coronavirus crisis.
A job card is produced for each recipient and those ringing for help are told what is available and a food parcel packaged for delivery by a volunteer.
Pastor Nick was awaiting a delivery of food from takeaway giant McDonald’s, which has had to close all its restaurants and was hopeful it would be meat. He explained that the hub is also short of the basics such as vegetables, bread and fruit along with non perishables but has been overwhelmed with flowers because no one is buying them.
Normally the food bank is open between 1-2pm each Saturday providing much needed supplies to 40 individuals and families on a weekly basis
Pastor Nick said: “At the moment we don’t know if we are going to be able to continue with the food bank on Saturday’s because if the deliveries in the week ramp up then it’s all going to be gone by Saturday.
“We have had volunteers putting out the cards all around the area. We have had a trickle of requests but we don’t know how that is going to evolve. This is new ground.”
He had just taken a call from a headteacher who is no longer able to give free lunches out for children at Winterbounre school so she has 28 needy families but no way of feeding them explained Nick. “She asked if we can help and the short answer is I don’t know?”
So far 1,500 cards have been delivered to neighbouring streets and help could be broadened further explains Pastor Nick with 2,000 more cards printed and is looking for a kindly donor to cover the £30 cost.
As well as food deliveries the hub can also collect prescription medication for those in self isolation and working with two local pharmacies.
The hub is also liaising with Croydon Voluntary Action.