Image by:Daniela Amato. Pictured volunteers at the Lewisham local kitchen

Lewisham charity tackling food poverty and loneliness

A Lewisham-based food charity is helping tackle food poverty and loneliness in the borough.

Lewisham Local, a franchise under Foodcycle Lewisham, aims to provide a three-course hot cooked meal to those struggling or in need every Wednesday and Saturday at the Lewisham Irish Community Centre.

The volunteer-led project works collaboratively to come up with a sustainable menu, which changes seasonally due to availability of produce.

Lewisham Local project leader Mel Shakespeare said: “What’s really lovely about this project is that the guests feel like they’re part of the community, they feel just as valuable.

“We’ve had two or three transitions from being guests to volunteers, because they love it so much, they want to be part of it and I think that really is a community, it’s got a genuine community feel to it.”

Lewisham Local event at the Lewisham Irish Community Center. Image by: Daniela Amato

Moreover, the price of fruit and vegetables on sale in the UK is predicted to rise again when new post-Brexit import controls are introduced later this year.

As many households are struggling to make ends meet, according to predictions made by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), unsecured debt per household is set to go from £13,361 in 2023 to £14,792 in 2024 – a rise of roughly 11%.

Furthermore, 26% of adults reported they feel lonely always, often, or some of the time, according to a recent survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics.

Lewisham Local therefore provides a hub for people who are struggling with food poverty and loneliness in the city, by providing anyone in need with a hot meal and a sense of community.

Lewisham Local receives food donations and funding through a variety of fundraising efforts.

However, the cost of living is not only affecting households but also food charities, with the rising cost of groceries and utilities such as gas and heating bills.

Shakespeare added: “I mean, I read I redid our budget for staple goods recently, and I wish I hadn’t done it. I nearly fell off my chair. It was horrifying.

“Certain things like coffee have gone up by almost 50%. You just think, wow if that’s worrying me, in terms of delivering this meal, what is that doing to somebody on a daily basis? That’s debilitating.”

Lately, the charity has had to put a limit on the number of meals they can serve in a day due to the tightness of the budget.

However, Lewisham Local is hoping to take in more donations and the public can donate through the Local Giving charity or by purchasing Lewisham Local lottery tickets by selecting the specific cause. 

Another avenue for donation is to directly provide food/ingredient donations to Lewisham Local.

Lewisham Local provides their services to those in need every Wednesday and Saturday at the Lewisham Irish Community Centre.

Featured image credit: Daniela Amato

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