Leaders from the three faith communities in White City have pooled their energies and resources to support those struggling in the pandemic as a result of poverty and educational disadvantage.
Supported by grants from the Winter Wellbeing Fund – set up by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and administered by UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham – the new White City Interfaith Partnership has seen the leaders of the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church and Islamic communities come together.
“If we can work together, we can bring things into the neighbourhood that will lift everybody,” said the Rev Ben Humphries, vicar of the Church of St Michael and St George in White City.
Rather than focus on differences, the partnership’s aim is to show that more unites us as a community than divides.
Uniting those in need
The group has been providing emergency food packages to families for five years, with surplus supermarket food, UNITED funding and H&F Council’s Winter Wellbeing grant securing extra items for the hardest-pressed.
“If families can’t afford to buy food, then they’re not going to buy toothpaste it’s as basic as that,” said Mr Humphries.
Funding has ensured that essentials such as toiletries, cleaning products, sanitary items and food basics have been bought, with a focus on breakfast items to ensure children are not hungry before school. “That ought to make a big difference to what parents give our most vulnerable children,” he added.
Additionally, the partnership received around 70 boxes, each containing enough food to make a week’s worth of half-term lunches, for those on free school meals.
Winter Wellbeing helps 32 local projects
In total, the Winter Wellbeing fund has given £142,836 in grants to 32 different local projects, prompting UNITED executive director Savraj Kaur to thank everyone who has helped.
“Winter is always harder than any other time of year, and that is especially true for families experiencing additional hardship due to the past year’s crises,” she said. “We’re delighted that our young charity could partner with the council to help, and we will use this experience to help others in the coming year too.”
Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F Council, praised the hard work of the individual projects, and the fund administrators. “By helping to channel the grants to grassroots activities it could be used most effectively,” she said. “It’s been fantastic to see so many groups and communities come together to support all of H&F through the pandemic.”
Others to have benefited from the grant programme include Dad’s House – a Fulham-based community charity that has worked in partnership with Solidarity Sports to supply food to those who need it and assist children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“A lot of the families did lose jobs, and through losing jobs, there was, unfortunately, a lot of family breakdown going along, side-by-side,” said Billy McGranaghan from the charity. A £5,000 grant covered the cost of winter bills for struggling families, including single dads. “UNITED and H&F Council’s partnership has been instrumental in helping us,” he said.
Another to benefit has been the Shepherds Bush Families Project. Awarded £9,000 from the Winter Wellbeing fund, it has been busily helping families caught between a lack of housing and high rent charges.
“For those with housing needs, the need has been really bad,” says Tina Mayers from the project. “It’s been really difficult to have three or four children in a one-bedroom flat, not being able to go out more than to do their daily exercise during the pandemic.”