Liberty, for Life: Feed London
Meet the charity on a mission to support children (and their families) and end school holiday hunger
Throughout the whole of 2023, Liberty is honoured to help support the incredible work of Feed London – the UK charity on a mission to end school holiday hunger, supporting children (and families) living in poverty by supplying food boxes at a time when they need it the most. Liberty customers will have the opportunity to support this important and timely cause throughout the year, by donating £1 at the in-store and online checkout, or donating a Feed London Box to support a family through the school holidays.
More than 400,000 London children face school holiday hunger, yet one Feed London box will provide a family with fresh ingredients and recipes to make six nutritious and filling meals. Simply add to your basket like you would any other Liberty item, and checkout to donate a box to a family in need.Donate Now
To learn more about this important cause and how we can all support them and how your Feed London box donations will help children across the capital, we sat down with Miracles Project Director, James Burton.
What Is Feed London?
Feed London is Miracles' response to dreadful food poverty crises occurring amongst London children living in poverty and facing serious hardship and crises. London has some of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK. Tower Hamlets is the borough with the highest in the whole of the country – standing at over 55%. Over 700,000 children live in poverty in the capital – that’s more than Scotland and Wales combined.
We deliver essential food boxes stuffed with enough fresh and healthy ingredients to make at least six main meals along with child-friendly recipes, £75 supermarket vouchers, treats for children (such as Easter bunnies from Liberty) and, when we can, creative kits. But more than this, we deliver a box of hope to families on the edge – who are isolated, frightened and alone.
Since we launched we have delivered the ingredients for over 25,000 main meals
What Is Your Role Within Feed London?
My role is Project Director. I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the charity. Miracles have just two paid employees – myself (full-time) and Debbie who works part-time and is responsible for our casework. We keep overheads as low as possible because we want to invest in our children and families, not in marketing departments, advertising campaigns or big salaries for senior executives.
We rely so much on our wonderful Trustees who do a great deal of work across the whole charity – well beyond their remits – as well as volunteers and supporters, like Liberty, who don’t just support the projects financially, but support us with their expertise, their professionalism and encouragement.
Having supporters such as Liberty is so positive – the genuine kindest and thoughtfulness is inspiring and they are really helping to raise awareness of the issues around child poverty.
Who Does Feed London Aim to Help?
We support children living in poverty and those experiencing significant hardship such as serious illness. It’s a holistic approach – helping the whole family.
Our work is very precise and very targeted. We work with referral partners such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, Royal Marsden, Young Lives Verse Cancer, Hackney Arc and more, working with some of the most marginalised families in London. These partnerships mean we reach those families who have hit rock bottom, where our support will have the most impact. These families are facing multiple problems and complex issues, from single mothers escaping domestic violence, refugees with no recourse to public funds, children in hospitals with life-limiting illnesses and much more.
The common theme is always poverty, extreme hardship and crises. Our most recent project clearly outlines the challenging issues they face – of the 203 families we supported (500+ children), 74% are unemployed, 62% are single mothers, 64% have children with illness or severe disability, 35% dealing with adult illness, 15% victims of human trafficking, 25% single mothers escaping domestic violence – and much more….
Having the boxes delivered or picked up from their community hubs gives families dignity. We hear so much about the sense of shame of having to use food banks, and not having enough to get them through. This is because we give them agency over the boxes, they let us know what they liked and didn’t, how we can improve, and what they want in each box – tailoring to their needs and their families. We are not a food bank, we don’t give out unwanted or leftover food.
Our boxes are carefully curated and filled with very good quality products – everything is fresh and well-maintained. This is at the heart of our work.
Where and Why Did Feed London Begin?
Covid had really impacted families experiencing real hardship and food poverty. We were watching them lose their jobs, getting their hours cut, they had the social welfare cut (£20 per week uplift gone). Through our general work we began to hear about the isolation, the depression and the feeling of utter hopelessness.
The research was indicating that children were not getting enough to eat or fresh healthy meals. There was gathering evidence that children were skipping meals due to the impact of poverty and that they were eating less fruit and vegetables – specifically during the school holidays.
We have been working in London for many years – especially in boroughs like Tower Hamlets where I launched the 50 Children 50 Artists project. So we were hearing first-hand these issues. Shocking for one of the world’s richest countries to have children going hungry. We had to do something – we are a charity that focuses on crises and this was a crisis happening on our doorstep. It was something that instantly engaged with our supporters and allowed us to reach out to those foundations supporting this kind of invite.
We launched at Christmas 2020 and since then have gone on to support 2,500 London children – delivered enough ingredients for 25,000 main meals (along with recipes for every meal) and given out £50,000 worth of supermarket vouchers.
What Have You Learned From Working at Feed London?
The first thing I learnt is that we are all vulnerable. We are all just one crisis away from destitution – from family breakdown. It doesn’t take much to push a family to the edge: job loss, illness, cuts in benefits, rent increases, ten years of austerity. I would ask anybody sceptical, what would it take to push them over. If they are honest with themselves, it wouldn’t be much.
I learnt just how difficult it is to live in London when you live in poverty – everything is at a premium, from travel to food to clothes, which is tough on children going without being surrounded by such opulence.
We are all in this together. I can’t sit around doing nothing whilst children are going hungry. No matter how much wealth you accumulate, you are only as rich as the poorest person in your community. London is one big community and we are in this together. To solve child poverty is to work together to bring about equality in all things – most importantly in outcomes. Investment in children, communities, schools, healthcare, jobs and housing. We all have to speak up and demand better.
How Can People Get Involved?
We are always looking for partners – businesses who want to make a difference in their local community who can sponsor our work and who have employees who’d like to help pack and deliver boxes. We need supporters who can run marathons for us, who can host fundraising events and help us cover our costs. We need ambassadors who will get vocal about food poverty and not tolerate any child going hungry. Write to your MP asking them what they are doing – support initiatives that provide free food for all children at school.
What Are Your Ambitions for Feed London?
We are just scratching the surface. There are thousands of children going hungry during the holidays so we need to expand our service to reach deep into every community, in every borough, to deliver our boxes to every family experiencing significant hardship during the holidays.
We are a small charity doing great work. Come and help us grow.
Our ambition for 2023 is to reach 600 families and for 2024 we want to reach 1,500 families – that’s around 4,000 children. To do that we need more partners, more businesses who want to make an impact, who want to work with their local communities and be part of the solution.