A joint council and community initiative that supports residents struggling to make ends meet has been shortlisted for this year’s London Homelessness Awards backed by the Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Last October, Croydon Council, The Family Centre in Fieldway, charity FareShare and other partner organisations under the umbrella name Community Connect opened The Food Stop, London’s first welfare and food club. This gives struggling households £20 worth of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and other foods for £3.50 a week.
Members also have access to a weekly jobs club, a cookery course and wider support from over 30 other organisations involved in Community Connect. They work alongside the council’s Gateway service, which helps with housing, benefits, debt management and social care assessment. In less than a year, the Food Stop has:
• Recruited around 100 members from Fieldway and New Addington
• Prevented 43 households from becoming homeless; 42 rented and one owner-occupier
• Saved residents a combined £16,037 on their food shopping bills
• Reduced rent debts and improved household finances among 43 families
• Helped 17 long-term unemployed residents into work and 13 into training
Now the scheme is in the running for the London Homelessness Awards, which celebrate innovation and good practice among organisations across the capital. The awards are open to all projects in London working in homelessness including from the voluntary sector, local authorities, public sector organisations or registered social landlords.
Judges will consider all nominations next month before the awards ceremony at City Hall on 18 October. The shortlisting comes after work by Gateway and The Food Stop were nominated for other awards over the last year.
“I’m proud of the Food Stop because it is a great example of how the council’s Gateway service and our partners are helping Croydon residents at real risk of homelessness.
“I wish the best of luck with this nomination to everyone involved in the Food Stop, which we are now looking to copy in other parts of the borough.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services
The London Homelessness Awards are sponsored by the London Housing Foundation, The Mayor of London, London boroughs’ housing directors and the charities Crisis and Shelter. The winner at October’s awards ceremony will receive £30,000, with £20,000 to second place and £10,000 to third place. Three other organisations will receive commendations.