Jill Pack (Selby Food Hub)
Case studies > Jill Pack
Mutual aid groups in the borough are responding to the great need exposed by the pandemic. Many people have suddenly lost their income and are unable to afford to feed themselves and their families. Many people are unable to leave their homes for the simple task of shopping, and hundreds of volunteers over the last two months have responded to daily requests for help.
Across Haringey local mutual aid groups – established by residents from a range of backgrounds, organisations and political parties - have been able to support and sustain the vital work of the Selby Food Hub which had been set up by users of the Centre and community organisers. At the end of April a call went out from community activists in Haringey that the Foodhub was struggling to meet the high demand created by Covid.
Mutual aid groups in Hornsey and Wood Green responded immediately and within a couple of days a small fleet of cars delivered donations of non-perishable food to the Foodhub. We are now in June, the demand continues to grow and the deliveries have not diminished.
Piers says “The response in Hornsey was fantastic, so many people wanted to get involved that we soon broke down into a dozen or so neighbourhood groups. We then got word that the Selby Centre Food Hub was struggling to meet a big increase in demand. Neighbours responded immediately and generously – eager to donate through a box left in a front garden. This has now become a weekly event, with dozens of local residents needing no persuasion. We have enthusiastically joined in the Thursday night clapping for key workers, but collecting for the food bank has been a practical act of solidarity with members of our community facing hunger and children in danger of going without. Other neighbourhood mutual aid groups across the ward – in Lightfoot Road, Nightingale Lane and elsewhere - are doing the same, with a carful or more of goods delivered to Selby every Monday.”
Tamar, one of the co-founders of the Muswell Hill group was involved in leafleting all streets in the area and used the local paper and Facebook to recruit many volunteers. She says “It has been a real eye opener, seeing the stark difference between the East and West of the borough. We have been hit up here in the hill but we still have enough to give to those who are truly facing a crisis. The corona virus had really shown up the economic inequalities. But I also see that bolstering the Selby Food Hub is not a long-term solution. We need to find better more sustainable ways of finding food security for those in financial hardship.”
“I've been really heartened by the response from Muswell Hill residents and their kindness to their neighbours in crisis", says Ruth.
In Bounds Green Labour Party members wanted to use their network to respond to the Covid-19 crisis. Local community and residents’ associations were contacted and the area was leafletted, a network of over 150 mutual support volunteers was established to do shopping, collect medicines, distribute food parcels/hot meals and provide support to those who are socially isolated via a listener and chatter group. Hundreds of people in Bounds Green have been supported, many of whom are also using the mutual support network, people give and receive from each other and together make a real difference to each other’s lives. Mary from Bounds Green says that “Many people wanted to give any spare food they had to food banks but we sadly don’t have one in our area. When we heard that the Selby Centre was looking for donations we had a good network already set up and so responded to the call out. A lot of us already knew of the great work Selby does and had friends/family who worked in or used the Selby Centre and so it was natural for us to want to link with a centre we knew. We would love to have a local food bank here and are beginning to look at how we might take inspiration and learning from Selby and set up locally in the Bounds Green/Wood Green area.”
The mutual aid group was set up in Stroud Green in the middle of March. Local people responded enthusiastically and were so keen to support people in their neighbourhood that, as Avril from Stroud Green says, “We have now divided into smaller more localised groups which together have over 700 members. When we discovered that the Selby Centre was giving out hundreds of food parcels twice a week and badly needed donations we organised a collection, having checked with our smaller local food bank that they were doing okay. We were surprised by the amount we were able to collect with just a few days’ notice – it shows how valuable the mutual aid Whatsapp groups are, and will probably continue to be for the foreseeable future.”
Sue, who organises the Selby Centre pickup for her street group in Hornsey, said “One of the things that has been a huge positive for me in this time has been working with neighbours to provide support for one another and for others in our constituency. Collecting for the Foodhub is only a small part of what we do and my hope for the future is that we can build on what has been started. Let’s carry on building strong communities that together can build a better world.”