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March 2016: Fulfilling our charitable purpose


January to March is always a very busy time for The Food Chain as we plan our activities for the new financial year. As Trustees and staff working for a charity, we have a ‘duty of trust’ to look carefully at how much funding we have secured and are likely to be able to raise during the year, and make plans that make the most of every penny that is so generously donated to support people living with HIV in London. 

Our charitable purpose is at the very heart of all the plans we make.

This year, our financial situation is not as strong as we would like it to be and so the Board of Trustees has needed to make some difficult decisions about how to reduce our running costs whilst reaching as many people in need as possible, and sustaining the highest quality of service delivery. This means we have news of some quite big changes that will be happening over the next few months.

We have decided to re-structure our staff team, and manage our services with fewer, changed posts. The sad outcome of this is that we will be losing our Finance & Facilities Manager at the end of April, and our Operations Manager at the end of June. Both have made huge contributions to the development and success of The Food Chain during their time in post, and they will be missed very much indeed. We will be re-organising their work so that we can still achieve everything we need to – with some staff taking on different aspects of their roles, and some ‘buying in’ of services on a different basis when that is the most efficient and cost-effective approach to take.

The other big change is that our office-based team is moving out of the 1st floor of Acorn House, at the end of April. We are really pleased to say that we will be moving in with another HIV Charity, Positively UK, which is based nearby on City Rd, close to Angel, Islington.

Positively UK is a long established charity with a similar history to our own.  

They provide a wide range of support services for people living with HIV and we already work closely with them. We are looking forward to developing our partnership with them further when we are housemates! Both our charities can think of ways in which our service users could benefit from our working more closely together, so we are looking forward to exploring those possibilities in the year ahead.

For all our service users and volunteers, the changes we are making will make no difference to how people receive or participate in our services. Services will be running exactly as they are now in the Acorn House kitchen and with the home delivered food service. Referrals will continue to be responded to in our friendly and efficient way. It will be business as usual all round, in that respect!

I think change often brings with it some anxiety and losses, as well as gains. The Food Chain is no stranger to adapting to the circumstances that impact on our capacity to provide much needed services for people living with HIV. What we know from our long history is that we are extremely fortunate to have a strong community of volunteers and staff whose commitment and determination is unfailing, whatever challenges we are facing.  Every day we meet people who are struggling with daily life and have no food in their cupboards. Our services make a life changing difference.  

As long as that need is still there and we have resources to respond, The Food Chain will go on adapting and changing, in the sure knowledge that every person helped makes it all worthwhile.

We will keep everyone up to date about the changes as they develop with news items and updates on our website and social media but if you would like to know more about the planned changes, please do contact me directly and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Or, if you would like to drop in to the kitchen on Saturday 7th May at 2pm some of our Trustees will also be there with me to talk about our changes.  This is a good time to say thank you to everyone involved in supporting The Food Chain. Together, we make a great team!

This month’s recipe from Nourish was prepared by Fran, our Training & Volunteer Co-ordinator. Many of the staff team are finding some firm favourites in the cookbook, and Fran has made Allegra McEvedy’s ‘Fish in the bag with Leeks & Couscous’ a few times now and found it delicious every time. It certainly looks it, in the photo – I must try this one myself now!

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