A joint council and community initiative that supports residents who are struggling to pay their bills has won a commendation in this year’s London Homelessness Awards.
The Food Stop is London’s first joint welfare and food club, where each week households receive £20 worth of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and other products for £3.50. Food Stop membership also provides residents with access to a weekly jobs club, cookery courses and wider support from over 30 other local organisations, including Croydon Council’s Gateway service, which helps with housing, benefits, debt management and social care assessment.
In less than a year, the Food Stop has:
• Recruited around 100 members from Fieldway and New Addington
• Prevented 42 rented households from becoming homeless
• Saved residents over £16,000 on their combined food shopping bills
• Reduced rent debts and improved household finances among 43 families
• Helped 17 long-term unemployed residents into work and 13 into training
Now the project, which was set up last October by the council, The Family Centre in Fieldway, charity FareShare and other partner organisations under the umbrella name Community Connect, has received a commendation at the London Homelessness Awards. Supported by the Mayor of London, these celebrate innovation and good practice among public sector, voluntary and private organisations across London.
Croydon Council was one of six finalists in the awards. The three winners will be announced at a ceremony on 18 October.
London Homelessness Awards judging chair Simon Dow said: “It was a tough choice to get to six but we think these projects show real innovation, sustainability and commitment to help reduce homelessness in London.”
“There are lots of great initiatives across London to tackle homelessness, so it’s a real compliment that we have been commended in these awards.
“This recognition underlines the great work being done by the council’s Gateway service with community partners to prevent homelessness and boost residents’ financial independence.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services