SWL’s Unsung Heroes: Brixton foodbank volunteer helps thousands who can’t afford to feed themselves


Elizabeth works full-time at Norwood and Brixton foodbanks.


By Douglas Patient

As a full-time volunteer at Norwood and Brixton foodbank distribution points, Elizabeth had an integral role in setting up and now running them since they opened in September 2011.

The foodbanks take donations which are given to vulnerable people in crisis. Demand has increased enormously over the last two years, with up to 70 people using the banks each day.

“It’s very important, in the first year we fed 2000 people and in the second year we fed 8000 people, so the numbers have gone up incredibly,” said Elizabeth who shows a real empathy with her clients.

“People make difficult choices – in the winter do they put the heating on or do they buy food? Some instances it is snowing outside and they have come with no coats on, mums with no shoes on or no socks.”

Elizabeth says people from all walks of life use the foodbanks for a whole variety of reasons. Some even rely heavily on them to eat their first meals for a while.

“Unfortunately there are people relying on it, we see people arrive and they are hungry and have not eaten, there are people with whom three meals a day is not the norm.

“We have people coming from schools where if their children get a meal in the evening at home they are lucky. There are genuinely people where there isn’t enough money to buy food.”

A member of St Luke’s Church in West Norwood, Elizabeth had been working part-time before she felt a calling through her faith to set up the food distribution points for the area. She researched using the internet, and visited other foodbanks through The Trussell Trust.

“I have done it because I felt it was important that we feed those people, I did a lot of research into why people were hungry, what was happening in the area, and as a result I spoke to the people in my church and said that is what we should do.”

Elizabeth is seeing a rise in donations as the festive season approaches and she is optimistic they will continue to receive help from the public.

“At the moment because it is coming up for Christmas, we are blessed and we do get a lot of donations coming in, and have lots of local people who just walk up and just give donations which is amazing and that happens all year round.

“Sometimes it is not as many but then we just go to the supermarket with a shopping list and people buy an extra item as they shop and donate it on the way out.”

People in need can obtain vouchers to exchange for food from their GPs, social workers, teachers, faith leaders and other care professionals.

For more information and to donate email [email protected] or visit

Photo courtesy of, with thanks.

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