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Saturday, 6 June 2020

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London charity turns HQ into Food Bank amid Coronavirus shutdown

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GREENHOUSE Sports, the London charity that provides free sports coaching and mentoring to thousands of disadvantaged children living in the capital, has reopened the Greenhouse Centre as a Food Bank this week in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Partnering with the North Paddington Foodbank Operation, Greenhouse Sports has converted its community sports centre, located in Marylebone, to allow vulnerable families from the Church Street Ward of Westminster to receive deliveries of essential food items. The Church Street Ward is among the 10% most deprived wards in the whole of the UK.

The Greenhouse Centre Food Bank is providing more than 100 food parcels and three tons of food each week to those in need and has been visited in recent days by pop star Ellie Goulding. Greenhouse Sports itself is supported by sports personalities Lord Sebastian Coe, Greg Rusedski and Ama Agbeze.

The Greenhouse Centre usually serves as a free-to-use sports centre and safe space for the local community in Marylebone. Since opening in April 2018, it now has more than 3000 members from the local area. As a charity Greenhouse Sports supports more than 7,000 disadvantaged young people from across the capital providing specialist sports coaching and mentoring from the charity’s coaches.

Greenhouse Sports partners with schools to provide opportunities for young people who may be disengaged, vulnerable or facing disadvantage to develop the social, thinking, emotional and physical skills that can help them thrive.

However, due to the Coronavirus-enforced lockdown, children and the local community have been unable to attend the Greenhouse Centre. With the Centre going unused, the charity wanted to explore ways to make the most effective use of its premises, leading to the decision to convert the Centre to a Food Bank.

The Greenhouse Centre in Paddington

CEO Béatrice Butsana-Sita said:

“Helping young people and our community is at the heart of what we do, so it was a no-brainer to turn our sports centre into a Food Bank during the Coronavirus crisis.”

“We contacted the North Paddington Food Bank with our offer and focused on the changes needed to set up the Greenhouse Centre as a Food Bank.”

“I am incredibly grateful to our staff and volunteers for backing this project and getting the Food Bank up and running so quickly.”

“It is a stark reality that many Londoners require food banks even at the best of times. The impact of the Coronavirus has meant that with many people out of work, their ability to provide for their families has been reduced. As a charity that already supports some of London’s most disadvantaged, we felt it was important for us to do what we can in this time of acute need.”

Despite the repurposing of its Centre, Greenhouse Sports has ensured that the vital support it provides to children in ‘normal’ times has continued. It recently launched its #HomeCoach initiative to ensure that children are still getting the support they need, with coaches filming themselves conducting fitness sessions, giving coaching tips, challenges and advice so that the children stay connected and are helped to stay physically and mentally healthy during the crisis.

Greenhouse Sports has also been taking part in The 2.6 Challenge, encouraging children to take part in an activity of their choice based on the numbers 2.6 or 26. Famous faces like England Netball star Ama Agbeze, Lord Sebastian Coe, and former British tennis number one Greg Rusedski have all got involved with Greenhouse Sports to raise money for the cause.

Greenhouse Sports Director of Coaching, Jason Sugrue said:

“We quickly realised that we weren’t going to be able to see or speak directly to our young people for a long time, so we immediately began working on innovative ways to continue supporting them.”

“One of the main ways we’ve been doing that is through our #HomeCoach campaign. This campaign is crucial in ensuring that our children feel not only physically healthy but also feel connected and supported mentally during this isolating period. Our coaches have done a great job in continuing to play a mentoring role in these young people’s lives during these unnerving times for everybody.”

If you would like more information on how you can support Greenhouse Sports, please visit https://www.greenhousesports.org/ or contact the Fundraising team at info@greenhousesports.org.

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