Surge in visitors to our ‘Meals for the Needy’ project suggest that coping with the economy is getting harder


London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) British Asian Christian Association, has noticed a surge in visitors to our ‘Meals for the Needy’ project based at Clementswood Community Centre in Ilford.

To help struggling families to cope with the economy and our regular homeless visitors, we have been expanding the items we provide on distribution days.

This month, we have been sharing toilet paper, sugar, tea bags, toiletries and much more to help with the demands of our visitors.

We have also continued to serve hot tea, coffee and chocolate for the growing crowd of visitors attending our centre every week.

This week in addition to our regular visitors we received a call from Greenwood House (click here), on Oaks Lane in Newbury Park.  One of their officers asked if we could provide food relief to one of their clients at their female supported living for mental health accommodation.  We agreed to deliver the food to the location which is about 3 miles from our centre for 3 days, after which the resident would have to visit our centre if she was happy with the provisions provided.  We had been informed that the client had run out of food and needed emergency assistance.

Our volunteer duly provided the food and completed the three day delivery service and we hope to see the client in person at future events.  She did seem to be very happy with the food.

We have carried on with our support to the Malachi Project which houses many of our homeless community in former mobile office units that have been converted into flats. This project houses 42 rough sleepers and we are currently providing 50 hot meals every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening to the centre.

We do not discriminate against anyone and we do not ask questions.  If someone is willing to queue as long as is required for our meals we accept that they need the food and other elements of our distribution.

Naomi Chowdhry, who often volunteers at our Friday and Saturday events, spoke about the experience, she said:

“We have a large number of visitors, most are friendly.

“It’s rewarding to see the smiles on their faces when they receive items from us.

“We have had to turn some away for aggressive behaviour but they have usually been drinking or taking drugs.

“If they come back with remorse and an apology we let them restart collecting with us.

“We try to ensure that our rules are respected for not only us but also because their behaviour can affect other visitors.

“Every homeless person in Ilford knows about us, that is really cool.

“When I go to some of the tents or other homeless meal events to share details of our three-day-a-week service everyone already knows about us.

“So far all have been complimentary.

“I hope one day there are no more homeless people, but if that happens I will miss the chance to volunteer at the centre.”

BACA has seen a growth in visitors since the cost of living crises.  We are now seeing up to 45 people a day but have lost some of our partners due to personal reasons and finance. The impact our work has had in our community has been phenomenal and we believe God is in control.  That said we could not operate without the generosity of our donors and if you would like to commit something towards this work you can do so by clicking (here).  One of the capital items we are desperately trying to obtain is an electric vehicle as soaring fuel costs limit our operation – please pray for our success with this aim.

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