Food banks and other charitable organisations in Croydon have welcomed new Government grants of up to £5,000 to support residents in need.
Over £140,000 has been allocated to Croydon Council by the Government for assisting households in need of paying basic living costs such as food, water bills or sanitary products.
Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, cabinet member for communities, safety and business recovery, said in a statement: “A growing number of our residents are struggling to pay their basic living costs and we want to get these grants out to our local voluntary organisations who are helping those hardest hit, to access food and other household essentials.”
Organisations that may benefit from such funding include food banks and one-stop shops, the latter of which is offered by Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church in Purley.
Nick Graves, the pastor of the church, told Eastlondonlines: “We welcome this additional funding from Croydon Council. We are seeing twice as many people accessing our Food Stop today as we were at the same time last year.
“As a result, we are having to top up our food supplies on a weekly basis to keep up with demand and increases in food prices makes it more expensive.”
The additional funding comes alongside a statement from the government on Thursday that unemployed workers in the UK will now have only four weeks – previously three months – to find a job before a portion of their Universal Credit payment is withdrawn.
This change has occurred as part of the new Way to Work campaign, focused on filling the 1.2 million job vacancies currently in the UK.
Graves said: “Our members tell us that the loss of the Universal Credit top up and higher fuel prices are resulting in them having to regularly choose between putting food on the table or putting the heating on, describing the service that we offer as a life line.
“It is a sad reflection on national government policy that our most vulnerable residents are suffering the most.”
Big Local, a charitable trust focused on providing communities with gradual funding over several years to sectors that local residents have chosen, will also see the benefit of the council’s grants. The Broad Green branch of the charity intends to make small organisations in Croydon aware of the funds and assist with the process of applying.
Bushra Ahmed, co-chair of Big Local Broad Green, told ELL: “These funds are desperately needed in the Broad Green area, already one of the most deprived wards in Croydon and the reason why the Big Local programme was brought into the area in the first place.”
Ahmed said that the funding is overruled by the changes to Universal Credit and lack of financial support for Croydon’s non-profit organisations due to the deficit in the council’s budget: “This is not going to be enough to stave off the worst cumulative effects on our community.
“We, as organisations that see the devastating results of the cuts, need to keep making the case for the Croydon voluntary sector to be funded in line with the growing need and also on a long-term basis, so that charities are able to plan longer-term for sustainable Covid recovery.”
The closing date for organisations to apply for the funding is January 31. Those interested can find the application form here, which should then be emailed to email@example.com.