I do hope you are all faring as best you can in our changed and very unusual circumstances.
The Food Chain team is all well and has responded with incredible commitment and resilience in these extremely difficult times. We all feel grateful that the work we do is of real help to people at this time.
We often talk within the team and with our Board of Trustees about how we can best respond to the critical needs of our service users. It is always our central focus, and the driving force of everything we do at The Food Chain. There has never been a time when this has been more important and time-critical than now.
Our already vulnerable service-users are now facing even greater challenges as we all get through the Covid19 crisis together.
We have understandably seen a huge increase in referrals of people needing food. We would usually receive 25-30 new referrals each month. Since March 13th, when we suspended our lunch service in the kitchen, we have received 93 new referrals. This is in addition to around 120 people who were already on service with us. By far the majority have a detectable viral load and a low CD4 count, potentially making them more vulnerable to severe illness if they do catch Covid19.
Many are living with other health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Nearly all are self-isolating and not able to go shopping. Even if they had the income and the technology to access online shopping they would not be able to get delivery slots. Many are experiencing heightened fear and anxiety in addition to physical health issues. For some these days are an unwelcome reminder of the early days of the Aids pandemic, and the trauma of that time. For many people these are very frightening times.
We have been overwhelmed by the fantastic response of our Food Chain volunteers as we have introduced the new ‘shop and deliver’ service.
With no online grocery slots available it has been essential to put this service in place, and our amazing volunteers have more than risen to the challenge!
We now have people all across London who are shopping locally and delivering groceries to our service users. It is moving and inspiring and just brilliant that so many people have signed up to do this so quickly. Our first volunteer delivery was made on the 20th March, and at the time of writing we are fast approaching our 100th delivery of this kind. A fantastic achievement in just 3 weeks.
All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you again!
The whole team deeply appreciates our collective effort and we will continue to work in this way for as long as needed.