Mary Mason – Hornsey and Wood Green Labour Women’s Officer and Bounds Green Labour Chair
Locked down, knowing we are facing a crisis and that for many in our community it will bring death, illness, loneliness, and poverty. For those already marginalised amongst our neighbours there will be increased fear coming with job loss, insecure immigration status and no recourse to benefits. Many people in Bounds Green work insecurely and are not able to claim furlough.
We were already organised across Bounds Green; Labour Party members and community activists and our first response was to connect with others: we reached out to community and tenants and neighbourhood groups. Working together we set up Bounds Green Mutual Support. Over 150 volunteers registered, and we supported hundreds more with food delivery, medicine collections, a listening ear, advice, and referral into Haringey’s Connected Communities. After gaining funding, we were able to support people with emergencies like no money for electricity, mobile connection, and school children with laptops. Our Mutual Aid project continues.
As lock down eased and the majority gradually moved out of the home we were faced with another crisis – the emergency response was ending, food distribution centres closing but many were facing food insecurity and food poverty. Our nearest Food Banks were almost 3 miles away and difficult to get to. We needed a local food bank – could we set this up? We were nervous.
We had worked with Palmers Green mosque to provide weekly food parcels for those in immediate need. They were connected to an independent Food Bank in Walthamstow and arranged for a few of us to visit. We were inspired and days later we began to plan. Within 3 weeks we had opened our doors as Bounds Green Food Bank. We welcome all and have no vouchers and serve fresh food as well as tins and packaged food, cleaning products and toiletries.
Our value and ethos are simple but important to us: Bounds Green: We are Community – Mutual Aid – all welcome. We have volunteers who use the Food Bank and guests who become volunteers as we work together to make sure everyone can eat in Bounds Green.
We are open 3 days a week from 2-4pm and have almost 100 volunteers, working in small groups: food sourcing, communications, and IT, fundraising and finance and running the Food Bank itself. A group of us co-ordinate the effort and meet weekly (remotely of course). Day one we had 14 guests and 6 days later we had 60, providing food for 200 people in Bounds Green. Our next problem is storage and finding other premises after the Samaritans Community hall we are using temporarily re-opens at the end of September.