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Sharp increase in people turning up for free food donations

On Monday 10th October, volunteers from Caridon Foundation donated Winter Warmer packs and joined Croydon Nightwatch to deliver hot meals and sandwiches to homeless people outside Access Croydon, Croydon Council HQ, Bernard Weatherill House, Mint Walk.

This initiative is headlined by Nightwatch who rely on volunteers and some food donations from local businesses, however they also make and provide the sandwiches. The food handout takes place every night at 9pm.

Volunteers said there was a stark increase in the number of people who came along, some who do have accommodation but simply can’t afford to eat.

Croydon Nightwatch is a charity that provides direct support to people at every level of homelessness, from the street homeless to those in hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation, as well as vulnerable former homeless people who need continuing support to prevent future homelessness. Caridon Foundation, the not-for-profit arm to the Caridon Group, offers housing related support to tenants that are deemed vulnerable and at risk of homelessness within the community.

Both organisations have said the cost-of-living crisis is putting increased pressure on their services with a dwindling supply of food donations and yet an increase in demand for their support. Similarly, they are seeing increased demand for other local services, including those providing support with mental health, but Croydon Council’s announcement of bankruptcy in 2020 means resources have become even more limited. More than 100 people came to receive food from the volunteers.

Sherrelle Collman, MD of Caridon Foundation, who was one of the volunteers said: “Last night was a very sad reflection of the state of our economy right now. We regularly run donation evenings to provide for vulnerable and street homeless people, but last night was different. There were people with many different circumstances, but all had one thing in common – they can’t afford to feed themselves. One lady, who has a two-month-old baby, came to us as she has just been made homeless.

“During the pandemic, the ‘Everyone In’ campaign all but ended street homelessness overnight, and the furlough scheme helped support those struggling financially. The cost of living crisis is crippling families, housing benefit is failing to provide an adequate safety net against homelessness, which has risen by 11% in the last three months according to Shelter, and yet there is very little being done. The government has to step in and do something, now.”

Sean, the Team Leader from Nightwatch Croydon said:

“It was a pleasure and a great help to have staff from Caridon volunteering with us at Nightwatch this past Monday. We prepare and distribute food to people who struggle financially, many of whom are homeless, every night of the year. This is hard work but we believe access to food is a basic human right that no one should ever be denied, no matter their circumstance. All of our volunteers help run the organisation alongside working and other commitments, so extra helping hands always go a long way. Large up Caridon!”

Caridon Foundation will be giving out more Winter Warmer Packs over the coming weeks which include, hoodies, gloves, hats, thermals, toiletries, and water. Volunteers from Caridon Property, part of Caridon Group, also ran another food donation evening on Monday 17th October at the same location, Croydon Council HQ.