In late 2019, teenager Hannah Chowdhry initiated the Meals for the Needy project at Clementswood Community centre.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns the centre was feeding 65 people a day and receiving national recognition, including a BBC News feature.
Hannah has returned to Essex to be with her family after having spent a year studying law at Aberdeen University, she has been volunteering at the centre and was very positive about progress for the centre.
On Saturday 10th June 2023, Hannah led the meals service and was quite surprised that over 45 people were now receiving food, three nights a week. The relevance of the work has grown with many other homeless meals distributors sharing their food with BACA whenever, the have spare food knowing we have a large number of clientele and share food on three nights.
Our partnerships with local restaurants has grown and the range of food we offer is large. Based on the huge amounts of gifts from partner organisations.
Hannah was pleased that we have a large number of new committed volunteers, but concerned that we have recently had to sell our old vehicle, due to age and reliability and have no alternative for now. We are relying on the generosity of our volunteers but on many days Juliet Chowdhry is having to undertake most of the these journeys, including delivering food to a local women’s refuge and to the Malachi Centre run by Salvation army that houses over 100 former street-sleepers.
Hannah Chowdhry, said:
“It’s great that so many people view our centre as a beacon of hope.
“Our Meals for the Needy project was set-up to give food and sustenance to people in need in Redbridge and we have become the most well-known of all similar services.
“We want to expand the operation so that we can build on the Food Bank element of the project.
“To do this we will need a large vehicle that can regularly carry large amounts of food.
“We have the volunteers just not the funding or the equipment necessary.
“I hope that people will respond to our appeal and help us to generate the funds necessary for the upscaling of our project.
“Many mothers and schools have contacted us for support especially in regards to hot meals and food bank for children.
“The growing demand of food within Clemenstwood a ward with two of London’s worst indices of deprivation sets our task at a very difficult level.”
Hannah has prepared a short video to illustrate just how large our growing number of end-users has become:
British Asian Christian Association, is a private donor funded group. We receive no grants from the government, local council or from the National Lottery. Food is often cooked by local businesses or community individuals but there are many associated costs in running a soup kitchen – it’s expensive! We could not afford to do this work without the support of people who want to help; if you have been moved by this account, you too can donate through various payment options listed (here).