In only three weeks, a fund set up by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to support the efforts of community groups to help children and families in need has distributed £75,000 in grants.
The Winter Wellbeing Community Fund turns government aid money into grassroots help for those struggling to make ends meet as family budgets are stretched at Christmas.
One programme which has benefited is the weekly food distribution run from Our Lady of Fatima Church in White City by an interfaith partnership.
The Rev Ben Humphries of the Church of St Michael & St George, who helps coordinate, said that on Monday’s regular delivery run people were asked what else they needed.
As a result of assistance from the Winter Wellbeing Community Fund, the volunteers were able to do a second trip to the cash & carry and top up the food parcels with cleaning spray, deodorant, toothpaste, washing-up liquid, soap, tea and coffee.
“It’s also meant we’ve been able to include some seasonal food items such as mince pies and Christmas puddings for around 50 families in and around White City,” said Mr Humphries.
The weekly food run has been going on for years, with volunteers distributing items donated by supermarkets with surpluses, or looming sell-by dates.
The Winter Wellbeing Community Fund has provided more than £9,300 to the project, to buy essential food, and also help those in need pay outstanding utility bills.
Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F Council, said she was pleased that the borough was able to help hundreds of people at a time of year when cash rapidly runs out.
“Winter is going to be tough for many families as they struggle to buy food and pay other bills,” she added. “The Winter Wellbeing Community Fund has allowed us to target extra funding to groups providing essentials to families.”
For Ben Humphries and the volunteers who staff the weekly food share, the extra fund aid has really helped. “We don’t turn anyone away,” he said. “The grant money has meant we can buy those in need sanitary and personal care products too.”
Other community groups and charities benefiting from the council’s wellbeing grant fund have been:
- People Arise Now (£3,630) to provide food and essentials to BAME women, ex-offenders and their families
- Lido Foundation (£10,000) for groceries and support to low-income families from ethnic minorities
- Dad’s House (£5,000) for essentials to single fathers and their children, and those shielding
- Urban Partnership Group (£2,803) to support the Cultural Flavours food distribution service
- Active Successful Engagement (£5,400) to support disadvantaged families with mental health challenges and victims of exploitation
- West London Welcome (£4,800) to provide supermarket vouchers to asylum-seeking families
- Bubble & Squeak (£5,000) to help families and older residents in Old Oak and College Park
- White City Residents’ Association (£3,000) for food parcels
- Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank (£2,000) to buy supermarket vouchers for struggling families
- Shepherds Bush Families Project (£9,025) for essentials for those in need.
The Winter Wellbeing Community Fund, administered for H&F Council by local charity UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham, reopens for grant applications in the New Year.