Charlton Athletic fans are being asked to help Greenwich Foodbank this week by donating non-perishable food at the club’s two home matches on Tuesday and Friday evenings.
A similar appeal last year resulted in local families in need receiving 1,000 meals. With the promoted club experiencing a spike in attendances, Fans Supporting Foodbanks will be hoping to beat that number this year.
You’ll find a collection point in The Valley’s car park from 6.15pm on Tuesday, ahead of the match against Huddersfield Town, and from 6.15pm on Friday, before the Hull City game. You don’t have to be going to the match to donate.
The food bank is looking for food with a long shelf life and that doesn’t require refrigeration. Examples include cereals, rice, long life milk or canned meat or fish. It currently has plenty of beans and pasta but is in great need of tinned fruit, tinned carrots, tinned peas, long-life fruit juice and tinned rice/custard.
If you can’t make it to The Valley, there are collection points at Charlton House, Sainsbury’s Charlton Riverside and Charlton Asda.
It may be summer, but Greenwich Foodbank is in increasing need of help as the rollout of Universal Credit causes a huge jump in demand for its services. Local Democracy Reporter TOM BULL visited its Eltham base to talk to its volunteers.
If Greenwich Foodbank could close tomorrow, it would. But as demand grows, there’s little chance of that.
Despite the generosity of the public, workers are quietly concerned that resources are wearing thin.
Following the rollout of Universal Credit, paired with London’s housing problems, volunteers in Greenwich say they are set to serve more than 9,000 residents in need this year – a 20 per cent increase on last year.
Along with his wife Esme, volunteer Alan Robinson, 70, has been involved with the food bank since 2012.
He said: “If the rate people are coming in continues this year it will be the biggest increase since 2015. This is the quietest time of year for food coming in. It’s a worrying time at the moment.
“We have never run out of food since we’ve been running, this is probably the closest we’ve got to that. It’s worrying. The last thing we want is for us not to be able to help.”
The impact of Universal Credit has been widely attributed to a surge in the use of foodbanks. In Greenwich, the repercussions were delayed as the borough was towards the end of the roll-out.
Universal Credit was designed to make the system simpler by combining several benefits into one, but has been criticised for causing a five-week delay in payments.
That, along with a lack in social housing, has been blamed for the continued use of Greenwich Foodbank.
During the morning only a few people turn up to use the service. It’s quiet, but volunteers say there’s never any guessing how busy they can be.
One mum does come in. She has her son with her, who has just turned one. It was her first time using a food bank.
The mother-of-three’s freezer had been left open, and she was left in a position where she didn’t know where to go.
She said: “Hopefully I won’t have to use it again. But if I do then I know it’s here. It’s amazing what these people do. I don’t know where I would have been without it. I couldn’t tell you – I’d be doomed.”
“Our borough is one of the most deprived local authorities in the country and we’re doing what we can, but central government austerity measures and increasing costs have left us with a £125million shortfall since 2010, which is having a disastrous impact.
“Central government must take immediate action before our borough slips further into poverty.”
Greenwich Council’s Summer Feast programme runs until the new school term starts in September, at locations including the Clockhouse Community Centre on the Woolwich Dockyard Estate, Woolwich Common Youth Club and Meridian Adventure Playground in west Greenwich.
Charlton Athletic has joined forces with Fans Supporting Foodbanks to help locals in need over Christmas. Supporters will again be able to donate non-perishable food at The Valley before Charlton’s home game against Gillingham this Saturday, after a successful collection event before the game against AFC Wimbledon last weekend.
The items collected by Fans Supporting Foodbanks will be given to Greenwich Foodbank, which operates eight foodbanks in the borough, and is in desperate need during the busy Christmas period.
Last year, Greenwich Foodbank fed 7,505 people. This year it looks like numbers could be as much as 20 per cent higher, meaning a constant supply of food is crucial.
Charlton fan Samuel Spong created Fans Supporting Foodbanks after being inspired by a similar initiative in Liverpool. He said: “The aim is to utilise the collective power of football fans to help vulnerable local residents get through Christmas. This is the first time we have done something like this and Charlton, given its long-standing commitment to community work, seemed like a natural partner.”
Alan Robinson of Greenwich Foodbank said: “We are very excited by this initiative. We know that Charlton Athletic and their fans care deeply about our community and to partner with them to explore a new source of food at a time when demand is increasing gives us confidence for the future.”