Another year over
As the year comes to a close it is good to take a little time to reflect on what The Food Chain has achieved this year. Financially, this has been one of the most difficult in the charity’s history. We saw our income reduce by 30% compared with the previous year and we needed to make some changes in order to sustain our charitable work.
This meant reducing the number of grocery parcels we are able to provide per household to six deliveries, and making sure that the referrals we accept give top priority to people with serious health concerns as the main reason for the referral. We re-designed the shopping lists to get the best possible value for our service users, and for people in financial need as the main reason for their referral we introduced a one-delivery emergency grocery parcel.
Even with these changes, we are finding that the service remains of great value to our service users and it still makes a real difference to their circumstances. We have not lost any of the quality, care or attention that people receive when they are referred to us at times of acute need.
The Eating Together meal service has remained the same as before, and we were pleased to re-introduce the Eating Positively Nutrition and Cookery classes in the Autumn.
We know from the feedback we have received from service users that The Food Chain remains a crucial lifeline for a great many people living with HIV in London.
There have been many good new developments this year too. We are very happy in our new office accommodation, sharing with Positively UK and are pleased that this means we can explore new ways of working together for the greater benefit of our service users. We look forward to further developing our partnership in the years to come.
It was also a great pleasure for us to share our expertise and knowledge on a national platform this year with a poster at the BHIVA conference in April, and both Sophie and Zoe giving presentations at the NHIVNA conference in June. The Food Chain provides a unique service, and we have a wealth of specialist knowledge, gained over several years, that can be shared with fellow health and social care professionals who support people living with HIV.
As we start a new year, it is our hope that all of our good work will continue and grow. Support services for people living with HIV in the UK are being cut or closing completely as funding reduces, leaving people with even fewer resources to call on at times of real need. The demand on our service will continue to grow as these cuts hit home.
It is a sad reality that The Food Chain is needed every bit as much now as it was on Christmas Day in 1988. This Christmas Day, our kitchen will be hosting a traditional lunch in partnership with Positive East. It will be a warm and welcoming place to be as we mark another chapter in the story of The Food Chain.
Wishing you all a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas, and a hopeful new year.