Multi award-winning Tottenham Food Hub seeks volunteers

by Jason Young 

The Tottenham Food Hub – a community project of the Gospel Temple Apostolic Church – has won the Mayor of London Volunteering Award for 2020, after having already won the 2019 Haringey Voluntary and Community Organisation of the Year Award and the 2018 Local Charity of the Year for Sainsbury’s Seven Sisters and Sainsbury’s Wood Green Local. It has also been shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards, scheduled for September 2021. So what is it about the Tottenham Food Hub that makes this community project win awards year after year?

As Community Champion winners of the Mayor of London Volunteering Award, the Tottenham Food Hub partners with community champions at Morrisons Wood Green, Lidl Tottenham and Tesco South Tottenham. It also partners with NatWest Wood Green and Nationwide Tottenham, who have donation points for customers to donate food, which will be collected and redistributed at the Tottenham Food Hub.

Working in the community is at the heart of everything they do at the Tottenham Food Hub; this includes Raising Awareness days at TSB Tottenham, Barclays Tottenham, Santander Tottenham and Barclays Lordship Lane.

In 2019, members of staff from NatWest Wood Green and M&S Crouch End volunteered for a day at the Tottenham Food Hub, as part of their annual charity day release. And last year, Nationwide Tottenham and Morrisons Wood Green did the same. Even former athlete and 110m High Hurdles English record holder, Tony Jarrett, lent a hand over the Christmas period to feed the community – just as Marcus Rashford has been doing with free school dinners. The Hub provides excellent volunteering experience for any staff workers and seasonal workers alike, who are looking for a stop-gap to get back onto their feet. Feedback from volunteers include:

“I found it inspiring to get involved in distributing food when we volunteered for a charity day. I was involved in meeting and greeting the people, and serving tea and refreshments.” 
(Bank manager)

“I feel very privileged to volunteer at the Tottenham Food Hub, working with a very dedicated team who feed the unemployed and homeless in the local community. Not only do we have the opportunity of meeting the needs of the local community, but also of reaching out and saying ‘We’re here for you and we’re here to help you.’ Sometimes that could just mean making them a cup of tea and having a chat. Most of the time it’s providing something practical like a food parcel, and signposting them to where they can get further help if needed.” 
(Regular volunteer)

During the pandemic, the demand for the service increased and they had to find new and alternative ways to deliver their service. This included a telephone befriending service, to make sure that the service users were catered for, and delivering food to homes of people who were elderly, sick or were shielding due to COVID-19 restrictions.

I am so very grateful for the grocery, food and drink from the Gospel Temple Church. Having been ill for a while, they were able to assist me at the right time of need by delivering food to my home. Thank you ever so much to Gospel Temple Church.
(L. Lewis)

Feedback like this has led to the Tottenham Food Hub being recognised as a project in the London Faith and Belief Community Awards in November 2020, and to being shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards in 2021.

However, an ongoing challenge is the recruitment of volunteers – particularly male volunteers – to carry trays of food from the vehicle into the Hub. Most of the volunteers are currently women, and they are finding it strenuous to carry the trays of food week in, week out. This is why the Hub is appealing to the wider community (and to churches, in particular) to volunteer their time and energy to facilitate this great endeavour to feed the community together in this time of crisis. Jesus brought Good News to the poor, by feeding the five thousand with the Word and with food.

The Tottenham Food Hub originally began as the Ponders End Food Hub back in February 2017, in the church in Ponders End. After winning the Local Charity of the Year for Sainsbury’s Seven Sisters in 2018, the Hub moved to Northumberland Park (which has the highest unemployment rate in London) to set up the Tottenham Food Hub, and bring Good News to the poor in the local community.

If 2018 was about being local in Tottenham, and 2019 was about being borough-wide in Haringey, then the Mayor of London Volunteering Award Community Champion winners in 2020 will be going national in 2021 at the National Diversity Awards.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the food bank manager, Susan Jarrett, on 07908 826980, or email gospeltemple@outlook.com.

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