At the start of the first lockdown, the De Beauvoir Association, along with an army of local volunteers and supporters, set up a De Beauvoir foodbank to provide food and other supplies to those in need.
As the first lockdown measures eased, the De Beauvoir foodbank closed. Excess stock and funds were given to Hackney foodbank, who are still supplying the local community.
Efforts of the De Beauvoir Association and many of the volunteers have instead turned towards Children With Voices. The Hackney-based organisation aims to encourage children to stay fit and healthy by teaching them life skills, how to start becoming independent around the house, and about the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise.
Under usual circumstances, Children With Voices also runs an affordable holiday club called Jumping Beans for five to 11-year olds, which also addresses holiday hunger, childhood obesity and poverty. They also encourage young people to volunteer as mentors.
As Jumping Beans has been unable to run this year, the team and their volunteers have been dedicating their time and resources to create a community food hub. They gather food donations close to sell-by from shops and large supermarkets and then cook and create depending on what they are given. They also work in partnership with Felix Project - a charitable organisation that saves surplus food from suppliers and redistributes it to charities.
Since March, they have run eight hubs in Hackney, cooked and distributed thousands of meals and provided food parcels supporting Hackney residents in need.
Michelle Dornelly, CEO of Children With Voices, explained: “I started this charity 25 years ago due to the declining environment that our children were living in, postcode wars and poverty to name a few. We have always seen the need to fill the gap with holiday hunger as schools, the local government and learning trust have filled us and our children for too long. Our service is user lead and so we empower local members to volunteer and give back which is great for our morale.
“We have a dedicated team of amazing volunteers who have given up their time and energy to support the community and the vulnerable members that are suffering. But they also relate to many of our clients so we can listen, talk, laugh and support them with their needs the best we can.
“We believe in uniting and supporting our community members, those that do not have a voice to express what is happening to them. Children's wellbeing and mental issues are crucial factors in these current times.”
If you would like to support Children With Voices, you can donate to their GoFundMe page: gf.me/u/yvqay2.
“We’re looking for a building which will make us more effective, efficient and be able to support more people and families in our community as well as the surrounding community,” Michelle added.
They are also looking for more volunteers that can travel through the city to collect the vast amount of food donations that are available.