Speakers at Food Hub AGM warn of harder times ahead for vulnerable local people

“We are facing really dire times. Needs are increasing while resources are reducing.”

That is the stark message from Julia Lee, leader of Purley Food Hub’s Client Support team, as the cost of living crisis intensifies and winter approaches.

Julia was speaking at the Food Hub’s annual general meeting on 18th October, where she relayed harrowing stories of vulnerable local people regularly going without food so that their children could eat.

“This is the worst situation many of us have seen in our lifetime,” said Julia. “In the past year our Client Support team has helped over 150 clients, offering advice and signposting them to specialist agencies.

“Over the next few months it’s going to get even harder as food prices go up and up and energy bills soar.”

Julia’s fears were echoed by other speakers at the meeting. Louise Willmer, the Food Hub’s Stock Controller, said: “In the last few weeks we have already had several sessions busier than last Christmas, which was our busiest period ever.”

Sam Pearson from St Francis Food Stop, Monks Hill, said: “Times are getting harder and people are really desperate. We now have 35 to 40 families a week using the Food Stop – that’s around 150 people being fed.

“But while demand is going up, our stocks from FareShare [who redistribute surplus food from supermarkets and the hospitality sector to charities] have declined dramatically.”

Major Emma Spencer, from The Vine Food Bank in New Addington, said: “We too have seen the numbers go up significantly. We currently have 80 to 100 people using the food bank, including quite a few families who have no recourse to public funds, and we have also had a stream of ladies who have been trafficked.”

Trevor Jones, the Food Hub’s Chair of Trustees, told the meeting: “We have been blessed with fantastic support, and thanks to the generosity of our donors we have been able to support Purley Food Stop at Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church, Croydon Nightwatch, Croydon Refugee Day Centre and two charity organisations in Thornton Heath as well as St Francis Food Stop and The Vine.

“Money donations over the year have exceeded the cost of running the Food Hub, though we expect these to decrease over the coming year as people really start to feel the pinch of rising food and energy costs.

“However, we are a food hub as well as a food bank, and want to be able to support others around us and not just ourselves. We will continue to do that as long as we are able.”

A playlist of contributions by the speakers at the Food Hub’s 2022 AGM is available on our YouTube channel here. Click on an image below to view individual speakers.

The AGM also marked the publication of the Food Hub’s Annual Report. Click on the image to view or download a copy.