Deptford community store is raising money to feed residents amid food shortage concerns

Volunteers at a shop in Deptford have launched an online crowdfunding page to raise money to supply food for low income families in the borough.

Evelyn Shop Staff
Volunteers at the Evelyn Community Store
Volunteers at the Evelyn Community Store. Pic: Lewisham Homes

Volunteers at a shop in Deptford have launched an online crowdfunding page to raise money to supply food for low income families in the borough.

Evelyn Community Store, based at the Evelyn Community Centre launched the page on April 16 with the aim of raising £10,000. So far, they have achieved 20 percent of that goal with 64 supporters donating just over £2,000 to the cause.

They currently provide a weekly shop for 70 residents from low income or vulnerable households to purchase fruit, vegetables, drinks, meats and other groceries worth up to £30.00 as part of a weekly £3.50 membership. However, there are concerns amongst staff that the Covid-19 lockdown is going to lead to a shortage of food.

Christina Norman, 57, a volunteer at the store from Deptford said: “You can never have enough food. When we have the food, we are always thinking to ourselves, what happens next week if we don’t have any food to give everybody?”.

She said that the response from the community to the store’s needs has been amazing, with local residents even donating bags of food to them. However, she says that the store is still in need of anything that the community can provide them with.

Norman also said that since the lockdown, the store, which is staffed entirely by volunteers has been delivering food and prescribed medicine to members who are being forced to self-isolate, but says that protective equipment for volunteers such as masks and hand sanitiser that they need to remain safe when doing so, is now running low.

“Some of the deliveries are in tower blocks and so you have to be really aware when going in, making sure we do cover ourselves” she said.

Members can get a variety of groceries at the store. Pic: Lewisham Homes

To maximise safety at the food store itself, residents can no longer openly shop during the hours of 5pm and 7pm like before but must now attend during an allotted time slot, whereby they will be the only person in the shopping hall.

As well as providing food to the community, Norman said that the Evelyn Community Store now has a Whatsapp messaging group where the members who are isolated and lonely at home can chat and keep the community spirit alive. 

“For some of the older people who volunteered, this was an outlet for them to come down and for them to be involved and needed in the community, so this [lockdown contributes] a lot towards mental health as well. We have a chat group now on Whatsapp and I think most of the members are on there, somebody will put a puzzle up or they’ll chat so that’s helping a little bit. I think at the end of this, it’ll be mental health that really takes the hit” she said.

The Evelyn Community Store was established in 2019 in conjunction with non-profit housing organisation Lewisham Homes and food charity FareShare with the aim of reducing food poverty in the borough.

The Evelyn Community Store crowdfunding page can be found here.

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