May 2022: A bold step to move away from food banking.
After 11 years of providing foodbank support alongside our broader suite of advice and wraparound services, the First Love Foundation team have decided to take the bold step of closing the foodbank element of our service.
Why have we closed the foodbank part of our service?
Back in 2020, in response to the pandemic, a multitude of pop-up foodbanks exploded into existence across the UK, set up by people with the best of intentions, wishing to ensure people could access food. Two years on, in Tower Hamlets alone there are now well over 60 food projects / foodbanks. We decided there was little sense in continuing to be one of them. This decision was taken after much deliberation.
By closing our foodbank we are able to focus our efforts and resources on tackling the root issues driving the crisis. It means taking more time to focus on the complex components of crisis, but it is crucial if we want to put an end to the revolving door of foodbank dependency.
Another reason for closing the foodbank was our growing concern regarding the link we have observed between high-sodium, calorie-dense, highly processed, long-life foods and the rise in long-term health issues that are aggravated by the prolonged consumption such food.
To address this issue and demonstrate our commitment to being part of the change we want to see, we are directing our efforts towards facilitating access to affordable fresh food options, and we look forward to updating you on our progress soon.
While we establish this new approach, for any referrals requiring rapid access to food support, we will direct them to the vast network of foodbank organisations that now exists in Tower Hamlets.
The focus of our service:
Welfare Rights Advice and Advocacy
We are placing a sharper focus on providing our AQS-accredited service, making sure we tackle the deeper layers of driving the crisis. We do this through:
Immediate crisis intervention
- Mapping the household needs and making tailored, specialist referrals based on assessment of their specific situation
- Providing ongoing case-management to ensure deep-level needs are addressed and resolved
Providing welfare rights advice
- UC applications, benefit checks, better-off calculations and more
- Appealing against a benefit decision, e.g. on UC or disability benefits
- Representing and preparing for tribunal, including first tier tribunal and upper tier tribunal
Giving wraparound support:
- mentoring clients and building up their sense of resilience
- preparing them with information/ helping them fill out forms if they are unable to do this without our guidance
- going with them to their appointment if they feel they really can’t face it on their own
- once our client’s situation is more stabilised, we explore with them their options and support them towards getting back into work, training, education or volunteering.
How to make a referral if you have a client in crisis
Referrals can be made to us via one of the 300+ referral agencies registered with us.
If you wish to enquire about becoming a referral agency, please contact us via this link:
We look forward to delivering our more focused model of support to people in crisis.
April 2022: Football Fundraiser!
We are incredibly grateful to Overbury and their contractors for organising a football fundraiser to support our work helping people in East London out of crisis.
With the cost of living crisis biting hard, our rapid intervention, welfare rights advice, advocacy and support is needed now more than ever before.
We are blown away by the amazing amount of £4,340 that the teams were able to raise in just one fundraiser event.
Without generous support like this we could not continue our service – we are extremely grateful to each and every one person who took part or donated.
Interns research key issues affecting the most vulnerable and marginalised in our local area
Having supported people out of crisis across Tower Hamlets since 2010, we recognise how much we rely on the wider community to help us in a variety of ways through volunteering. This includes involving university students in conducting social research to provide us with deeper insights into the key issues affecting the most vulnerable and marginalised in our local community.
We send a huge thank you to our latest two interns from Queen Mary University of London, Shazeda Akthar and Heidi Pathak, who recently completed a research assignment for us, investigating where the support gaps exist for our most marginalised people in the East London community.
We are most grateful to them and we congratulate them on completing an extremely insightful piece of research!