NEWHAM charity Bonny Downs Community Association (BDCA) today reported unprecedented demand for emergency support due to the Coronavirus and has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help the community through the next phase of the crisis.
Since it began its emergency response five weeks ago, the charity has provided more than 6,500 days of emergency food and essentials through its hub and foodbank to over 1,300 people across the borough, including families and older people who are vulnerable or self-isolating. It estimates that around a third of the people it is supporting are children.
The charity has also launched or is adapting other services to help Newham residents through the crisis, including:
- A neighbourhood shopper scheme to deliver shopping to people who can afford to pay but are unable to go out at present
- A befriending service for older people who are isolated due to the crisis, along with other support groups and training to help elders get online and stay connected using technology
- A programme of virtual creative activities to help keep children and young people entertained and learning while schools are closed; and
- A phone-based debt, benefits and employment advice and advocacy service while it cannot operate face-to-face.
BDCA says that demand for its emergency relief packs has been greater than expected and there is no sign of it slowing. The charity currently operates an emergency hub on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with volunteers assembling packs of fresh, frozen and store cupboard foods as well as cleaning and household products and delivering them to residents. Its foodbank, which operates on Wednesdays in partnership with Bonny Downs Baptist Church, is at its busiest since it opened in 2013.
The charity is appealing for financial donations to help it continue supporting the community through the crisis. People wishing to support the work can read more and donate at crowdfunder.co.uk/BDCAcovid. Crowdfunder will pass on all funds raised without taking fees.
Chelle Coulton, Chief Executive of Bonny Downs Community Association, said:
“We thought that demand would be subsiding by now, but it has actually risen in the last two weeks as quarantine continues and more people find themselves in financial difficulty. It is clear that our community will need emergency support for longer than we ever expected or have funding for. We are typically spending at least £1,000 a week on shopping alone, in addition to the costs of our other services and overheads.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of the community and our volunteers over the past six weeks, as well as the fantastic spirit of collaboration we’ve experienced as we’ve partnered with Newham Council and other community organisations. A successful crowdfunder will really help us to continue the work we’ve begun and help our neighbours make it through the crisis.”
Janet Colledge is a long-time volunteer at the foodbank and is also Chief Careers Education Consultant at Outstanding Careers and Education Director of National Careers Week CIC.
“The way we work has had to change. We still have people coming to us with vouchers issued by referring organisations, schools, surgeries, debt charities and social workers. However, we now also have many people coming to us for help directly so we ask them to provide proof of their name and address and the size of their family, often assessing them over the phone and arranging a delivery. In addition, because of the scale of the crisis, we have adapted to provide a longer supply of essentials than the three-day pack that foodbanks have traditionally offered.”