‘There are people going hungry’: Finchley Road’s JW3 community centre provides food parcels and companionship to vulnerable people during coronavirus crisis
PUBLISHED: 11:13 16 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:02 17 May 2020
“The demand has shocked me.”
Finchley Road community centre JW3 is supporting the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic on three fronts – with a food bank service, by cooking meals for those who need them, and by running a telephone network to support those isolating.
And with the extent of the need for urgent help with meals – its team has delivered 5,000 in just three weeks – catching it by surprise, the plan is to keep the services going for as long as possible.
JW3’s social programming manager, Jacob Forman, told this newspaper: “Camden has often struck me as a very affluent area in many ways. Covid has really been a stark reminder that that’s not the whole story. There are people going hungry. But as well as being shocked to find this, I have been happy that we have been able to set this up and step in.”
Working with the Doorstep Homeless Families Project, JW3 has been working to minimise the number of families going without food during the crisis. Together, according to Jacob Forman, who heads up JW3’s social outreach work, they are sending out 48 “care packages” to families who can’t afford food.
The idea is that food is collected in hubs outside of volunteers’ homes and then delivered to JW3 between 10am and midday every Wednesday, it is then sorted and delivered to those who need help that afternoon.
The centre is now also a hub for the Hampstead and Kilburn Covid-19 Mutual Aid group, which is delivering parcels from the centre each Wednesday.
Tuesdays and Thursdays see JW3 team up with the local food charity Feast to feed around 40 vulnerable residents identified by community organisations and Camden Council.
As for the telephone “befriending service”, Jacob said: “We have got people making phone calls to people who would otherwise have been coming into the centre. They have lost lots of the social networks.”
In general, he added: “We are going to keep going. We are not planning on stopping any time soon. There’s always a need. And the more and more people find out about what we’re doing, the more people we can help.”
To get involved with the volunteer effort at JW3, or to ask about the help they can provide to those in need on behalf of yourself or others, contact Jacob on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07927646437.
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