First Love Blog
From March 2020, we aim to inspire and uplift with every post we write. The First Love blog has always been about documenting the support of the community, our success stories and the like – but we are living in a very testing time right now. We hope you can come here to unwind, be inspired, and leave wanting to create positive change. We hope you enjoy!
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently published a new report looking at how “decisions and behaviours play a vital role in helping avoid and escape poverty”. Their findings showed that poverty and low socio economic status does have an influence on the process underpinning decision making.
We define crisis as having no money and no food. We know crisis has a huge effect on someone’s ability to think clearly and rationally. When you are stressed and hungry, life becomes all about survival and making it through the day, so naturally decisions that will benefit in the short term are made. The findings in this report outline examples and reasons to why this might be the case. For us, the report reinforces how important our holistic approach is for people in poverty, to help them discover and resolve the root cause of the crisis through specialist welfare advice and relational support, as well as giving short term help in means of emergency food support.
There are three findings in the report that we could particularly relate to having come across situations in our work:
- “People living in poverty make decisions focused on coping with present stressful circumstances, often at the expense of future goals.”
We run our LOVE Summer holiday scheme for families who struggle when their children aren’t receiving free school meals because of the extra expense it causes. Our scheme is an opportunity for families to receive weekly support, a chance to build relationships and have fun together. Families also meet with our Project Worker for additional support and have access to a benefits health check in case they are not in receipt of all the financial support they are entitled to. These families are in survival mode; trying to make it to the end of each month without unexpected expenses or situations arising, for example replacing a child’s lost school blazer becomes a financial worry. Long term goals or dreams seem unreachable. However, we put more than food in bellies, we put hope in hearts. Anybody can achieve anything with the right opportunities and support.
- “For many individuals living in poverty, the choices made are not always bad ones, but are adapted to the constraints of life with very few resources”
Sometimes the options are very limited. For example, when a person fails the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and they want to challenge the decision but in meantime they will receive no income; they apply for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) not because they are fit for work but because they need money to pay living costs and bills. This is just one example of when choices have had to be made in order to adapt to a life with very few resources. This particular situation is recently highlighted in Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ film. If you feel passionate about social justice and the welfare system, we would recommend that you watch this film. Here is a link to the trailer.
- “People with lower socio-economic status have a significantly lower sense of self-worth, which can dampen their motivation to improve their condition.”
This finding was evident when our First Love Foundation hero, Alfred was referred to us. He was so stressed and low in spirits that he had to bring a friend with him to speak on his behalf. His income had been drastically reduced following the introduction of the bedroom tax. He was left with £43 a week to cover all bills and expenses. “I was eating a sandwich, maybe once a day. You’ve got to make £10 last a week before you get paid again.” Although looking for work, Alfred was struggling and losing hope. “It’s no joke. When you don’t eat properly you starve. You lose your self-esteem and everything. I was sending out my CV 15 times a day to companies. Sometimes you get replies back and sometimes you don’t.” Fortunately, we were able to help Alfred get back on track with the right advice and support, which resulted in him getting a job and having a sustainable life. Read his full story here.
The report concludes with, “people living in or near poverty experience a shift in psychological, social and cultural processes that may hinder their ability to make decisions that are beneficial in the long term”. People in poverty are forced to adapt to circumstances and do whatever is needed to survive, even if it could have potentially negative implications in the long term.
These decisions focus on four aspects:
- The present
- The actual
- Those socially close
- The ‘here’
The way we work, at First Love Foundation, is to tackle poverty and social justice in Tower Hamlets through a unique and holistic approach. We address the immediate need by providing emergency food support, but the heart of what we do is provide advice & support to tackle the root cause of their problems and underlying issues – to break the cycle of crisis. We guide and enable people to get themselves back on their feet so that they have a new hope and resilience for the future.
By donating today, you can support people referred to us to ensure the poverty cycle is broken and lives are transformed. Just £10 can start a journey out of crisis for someone.*
*£10 is the estimated cost of providing a one to one meeting with our Project Worker.
Lent has become an opportunity to not only give up chocolate, coffee or Facebook. It is also a time to be kind, thoughtful, thankful and generous.
We are challenging you to GIVE UP AND GIVE this lent. Give up something you love and show love by donating the cost of what you save.
Your support has the power to change a life like Alfred’s…
“It’s no joke. When you don’t eat properly you starve. You lose your self-esteem and everything. I was sending out my CV 15 times a day to companies. Sometimes you get replies back and sometimes you don’t…” Click here to the find out how Alfred went from this crisis to having a sustainable and hopeful future.
£50 could provide the opportunity for someone like Alfred, Lorna, Sandra or Claire to meet with our project worker and get the advice and support they need to start their journey out of crisis.
How to get involved:
- Join our #firstlovelent appeal and commit to GIVE UP AND GIVE this lent.
- Donate through our website or text LENT10 £3 to 70070 to donate £3 and support someone like Alfred get back on their feet.
- Want to increase the impact of your giving? Swap the number after the £ sign to donate a different amount e.g. £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10
There is a new Sainsbury’s store opening near Stepney Green station and we are thrilled to have been chosen as their charity partner!
We meet people every week from across the borough of Tower Hamlets who are facing crisis. Over the past week alone, reasons for referrals have included issues surrounding Universal Credit, family breakdown and homelessness.
The support we receive from Sainsbury’s and their customers will help us continue to reach those most isolated and vulnerable in our community. We provide much needed advice, support and an emergency donation of food to help people get back on their feet.
There are a number of ways that Sainsbury’s customers can support us – you can make a donation at the till points where there will be permanent collection tins. Or even join us at our upcoming supermarket collections and fundraising events to be held in store throughout the coming year.
We are looking forward to attending the opening of the new Stepney Green station store on the 2nd March and hope to see you there!
Many people ask us the meaning behind our name, First Love Foundation. You may have even been wondering it too…
So, why First Love? Our name represents everything that we are about; loving people intentionally.
We show love, without judgement to everyone that walks through our door, because so much more can be achieved if you simply love first. With care and compassion, we transform lives, helping them move from crisis to living sustainably.
The people we meet are not just numbers in the system, they are more than that, people with unique stories and daily struggles who deserve better. Through the love and support we give, they are able to achieve a better life. With your support, you can help us continue to transform the lives of every person we meet.
To find out more, click here or on the image below to watch a 40 second video; we challenge you to show love and give this Valentine’s Day.
Help us, help them. Just £10 will ensure a person receives a session with our Project Worker – to receive the love, advice and support they need. Donate today to be a part of changing lives.
Thank you for making LOVE Christmas 2016 the biggest and best one yet! Nearly 100 local people, business, schools, churches and organisations have supported the appeal and over 100 volunteers have donated their time to ensure that EVERYONE felt loved this Christmas.
Together you donated over 770 toys and collected enough food to not only fill 400 hampers but to also keep our weekly foodbank sessions running and see us into the New Year!
On the 21st December we held our two LOVE Christmas events, one for families where there were crafts, entertainment, a live band, hot food and games. Then we had a special event for single adults where we enjoyed a hot meal together and a special Christmas Quiz!
Every guest who attended was given a food hamper and a gift as a result of your kindness and generosity. Here are some photos from the day…
“I am always speechless when I hear what has been donated and struggle to find the words to truly express how grateful I am. There are hundreds of people facing crisis at any one time and we at First Love Foundation simply want to give them a chance to build a sustainable life, be happy and have hope for the future. However you supported us, thank you!”
Denise Bentley, CEO & Co-founder
To continue supporting us in 2017, please consider donating money to help people go from crisis to sustainability. Just £10 could change a life.
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