Food distribution – helping those in need in this unprecedented situation

Food distribution – helping those in need in this unprecedented situation

30 April 2020

The coronavirus and the measures that have been taken to limit its impact have created a unique situation for SPEAR with a number of unprecedented challenges. Following the tremendous efforts of our Outreach teams, most of our service users have been placed into accommodation which will keep them safe as this crisis unfolds.

Some of our newly housed residents fall into the highest risk category and have been advised to stay in isolation for an extended period. We also have residents with serious mental health issues for whom leaving their accommodation is damagingly stressful. Some residents have become sick and must self-isolate. In recent weeks SPEAR has taken steps to ensure these service users have the food and other supplies they need to stay safe.

Services such as food banks have seen a huge surge in demand and it became apparent some weeks ago that the possibility existed for some of our newly housed service users to be without food for an extended period. To avoid this, SPEAR appealed for donations of food and other essentials from local supermarkets and residents.

Their response has been magnificent.

Lee has been coordinating a weekly collection with our neighbours at Radnor Gardens in Twickenham. His brother Mark has also arranged a weekly collection with residents at Tranmere Road in Whitton. We can’t thank Lee, Mark and the community enough for their kindness and generosity.

SPEAR now receives substantial donations each week from Sainsburys, from Waitrose and from The Real Junk Food Project. In addition, at least six local residents have organised their neighbours to collect food and sundries each week and deliver them to our Twickenham Hub for distribution to our recently housed service users. Some supporters have been incredibly thoughtful and cooked homemade meals to encourage healthy eating. The efforts of the local community mean that SPEAR, which is not traditionally a food bank, is now able to regularly supply people in need, including those who are sick and vulnerable.

Collecting supplies is only the first link in the chain. Once the supplies, including fresh produce like fruit and bread, are at our Hub they must be sorted and quickly distributed. Because of the current restrictions, many of our usual volunteers cannot help us but SPEAR staff have stepped in to fill the need to get food out to our residents.

As of now, we have no way of knowing how long the current situation will endure or how social restrictions will be eased. Because of this new reality, the food distribution system that has been put in place will enable SPEAR to support those in need for as long as necessary.

We have set up a pool of volunteer drivers who are offering to pick up the food donations that come to SPEAR from Waitrose and Sainsbury’s and local groups. Our drivers are then distributing the food donations to our hostels, properties and individual clients. We very much appreciate the help that our volunteers are providing, all whilst practising safe social distancing.

The Real Junk Food Project saves surplus food from being wasted and turns them into tasty meals. They have delivered many meals and single items to SPEAR during lockdown. 

How you can help

If you’d like to donate items or have any questions please email Our main phone line 020 7036 9774 is open 9am-5pm but currently operating with limited staff. Please bear with us if it takes longer than usual to process your enquiry.

With the nation in lockdown, our services are still needed more than ever. SPEAR’s hard-working frontline Key Workers continue to work with the most vulnerable people in our community in hostels and out on the streets. Unfortunately, we have suffered a significant loss of income due to cancellation of fundraising activities. We have therefore launched a Crowfunder campaign to raise online donations –

Please help us out of this crisis, so we can help others out of theirs. No matter how big or small, we really appreciate every single donation that you can give.

Thanks to our staff at the Hub for working hard to set up a system to handle donations of essential items.