An award-winning initiative where the council and community groups help struggling residents to save up to £700 a year off household bills was unveiled in Thornton Heath yesterday (Wednesday).
The borough’s third Food Stop at Parchmore Methodist Church will help people at risk of homelessness to get cut-price food, one-to-one debt advice and wider support from a partnership between Croydon Council teams and local voluntary, community and faith sector organisations.
The Food Stop is open at the church’s community centre in Parchmore Road every Wednesday from 10am-12pm, where each member can get:
• Around £15 to £20 worth of fresh food and other groceries for £3.50 a week
• Help with budgeting
• Employability support
• Support with healthier lifestyle choices, including quitting smoking
• Access to skills training
Aimed especially at local people affected by welfare reforms, Food Stop membership can also include referrals such as for mental and physical health needs and domestic abuse support, plus employment advice through the council’s job brokerage service Croydon Works and other partners.
At a launch event at Parchmore Methodist Church yesterday, the Reverend Nadine Wilkinson hosted 50 guests including residents, councillors, church representatives, charities and voluntary sector partners. A ribbon was cut by Councillor Alison Butler, Croydon Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for Homes and Gateway services, and senior Methodist minister and member of the House of Lords the Reverend Dr Leslie Griffiths, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port.
The new Food Stop is Croydon’s third to be formally launched by the council’s Gateway service since a pilot project began at The Family Centre in Fieldway in 2017. In its first year alone, it saved £52,000 in residents’ combined shopping bills, prevented 54 rented households from becoming homeless and helped over 40 people into work or training. A second opened in Selsdon last October.
Last year Croydon Council’s Gateway service was named as the winner in the Delivering Better Outcomes category at The MJ Awards for its work in preventing homelessness, including Food Stops.
“Struggling families are hit hardest by the rising cost of living and welfare cuts, so our Food Stops improve their wider financial independence and help them afford their shopping bills.
“I want to particularly thank the Reverend Wilkinson for offering her church as a base for this Food Stop to help vulnerable local residents, as none of this would be possible without close working between council staff and local communities.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services
The Reverend Nadine Wilkinson said: “Thornton Heath is a community which is uniquely presented both with challenges and a wealth of goodwill, committed neighbours and the gifts and skills to address these challenges. We’re really pleased to be playing a role in connecting people and organisations so that our community might begin to recognise its own potential resourcefulness.”
For more information on the Food Stop, email firstname.lastname@example.org