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Southwark food bank officially opens its doors to meet growing demand

DCFH Launch 52

Darwin Court food bank has officially opened, as the number of Londoners using food banks hits an all-time high.

Published: 12/03/2024

London remains one of the most unequal parts of the country, with 25 percent of Londoners and 33 percent of children living in poverty after housing costs. In some boroughs, nearly 50 percent of children are living in poverty.

As living costs continue to soar, more people are using food banks than ever before. Last year, almost 385,000 people in London did so – an increase of nearly 100,000 compared with the previous year.

The much-needed food bank is located in Darwin Court - an older person's housing scheme with 76 apartments and 135 residents. The scheme provides safe, secure and adaptable homes that support residents’ health and wellbeing.

Currently, there are approximately 160 registered families who benefit from the food hub, with around 90 residents accessing the service each week. The youngest resident who has used the hub is 16, and the oldest is 94.

Peabody’s partnerships have helped grow the hub to support more elderly and vulnerable residents in need. It now has refrigeration for perishable items and shop floor shelving to help residents choose what they need.

Purdy – one of Peabody’s maintenance contractors – is helping fund this project for the long term. They have invested in the refrigeration units, routinely helped to boost the hub's weekly food supply, and provided regular volunteers to support food distribution each week.

Peabody’s charity partners The Felix Project and City Harvest, as well as Tesco, provide donations to the hub. Peabody hopes other local food businesses, including KFC and Nando’s, will be able to donate food in the future.

Residents come to pick up cupboard staples such as eggs, milk and bread, but they appreciate it's a way to get to know each other too. One resident who uses the service said: “I live in a local Peabody estate. This is an excellent service that helps me a lot. I also get to meet my neighbours and have a chat.”

The food hub now has many regulars who come once a week to pick up additional food items. Another resident says: “It helps me a lot. It tops up my weekly shop and stops me from being hungry. Thank you to everyone running the service.”

Residents that attended the opening event were also gifted energy saving lightbulbs and, if needed, provided with free recycled technology courtesy of charity Community Tech Aid.

The food hub is a free service open three times a week on Tuesdays from 9.30am – 12.30pm, Thursdays from 3.30 - 6.30pm and Saturdays from 10.00am - 3.00pm.

Ian McDermott, Chief Executive at Peabody, said: “Darwin Court is an amazing project that grew out of need, and it now helps over 100 Southwark residents get access to free, healthy food. Its expansion couldn’t have happened without the help of our partners at Purdy who have provided vital donations - including fridges, freezers and food.

“This much-needed hub is just one example of our dedication to making a tangible difference to the lives of Londoners by breaking stigma, supporting residents, and boosting health and well-being.”

Pippa Pang, Social Value and Marketing Manager at Kinovo, of which Purdy is a subsidiary, said: “Working alongside Purdy and Peabody in the recent opening event at Darwin Court Food Hub was inspiring. The collaboration allowed us to enhance our Social Value commitment, emphasising the impact we can make within a community when organisations collaborate. Witnessing the positive outcomes of our partnership has motivated our efforts to make meaningful contributions to the well-being of those we serve. It's more than a Food Hub; it's a testament to our collective efforts in creating positive change among the community." 

The food hub is open to all Peabody residents. You don’t need a referral or food vouchers, but please bring something to show you’re a Peabody resident.

Opening hours:

  • Tuesdays from 9.30am to 12.30pm
  • Wednesdays from 1.30pm to 4.30pm
  • Thursdays from 3.30pm to 6.30pm

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