Most frequent questions and answers
If you are registering and have a referral you want to make straight away, please do so and do not wait for a response from us, we will only contact you if there is a problem with the referral.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE ONLY CURRENTLY ABLE TO SERVE THE WESTMINSTER AREA AND NEIGHBOURING AREAS OF KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA AND BRENT, IF THE REFERRAL IS NOT WITHIN OUR USUAL AREA, WE MAY CONTACT YOU TO REDIRECT YOUR REQUEST.
Brent, RBKC and Westminster all also have council referral processes that you can use which are detailed in ‘if you need to use the food bank’ tab.
Please fill out all of this form in order to provide all of the information needed. We can only provide a home delivery when the person cannot afford food, if they can afford food, please find alternative support using the council based services, the details for which are at the top of this page.
If you are passing on a request from someone you are not supporting directly, please only refer the person for 1 week, they will then need further referrals for further packages.
If you are a support worker/adviser to the person being referred and have a more intimate understanding of their situation, you can refer them for more than 1 week.
If your referral needs our urgent attention, please follow it up with a call to 07932 623443 or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need to follow-up with any further information, please email email@example.com:
IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO AFFORD FOOD
- Get a referral using the information below
- You will be contacted by the food bank to arrange the collection or delivery of your food
- If you need more food you will need to get another referral.
The North Paddington Food Bank is now operating a collection service for people who are able to come to pick up their food.
If you are able to come and collect from our centre at WECH community Centre, 36a Elgin Avenue, W9 3AZ, you will be asked to come on a Wednesday.
If you are self-isolating, have a disability or are unable to reach this address, we can arrange a delivery (currently on Tuesdays to Fridays).
If you need food and cannot afford to purchase it, we would be happy to help, please just follow these instructions.
We currently require a referral to receive food to help us manage the number of requests that we get, to help us maintain social distancing rules and to make sure that we are able to prepare packages based on the dietary requirements communicated in the referral.
If you have a referral: Your referral should come through to us via a form on this website. We will use this information to arrange a food collection or delivery as soon as possible. If you only have a paper voucher, please ask the person who gave it to you to instead fill out an online form on this website.
If you do not have a referral: You need to send a request to your local council, who will either send you food themselves, or provide the information to us to make a delivery. They can also direct you to further support if needed.
Alternatively, if you have a support worker/key worker/adviser then you can ask them to refer you. You can also get a referral from any organisation/charity who is providing you with support.
Kensington and Chelsea:
You can contact the Covid-19 Hub by email at C19Hub@rbkc.gov.uk or call the dedicated line on 020 7361 4326. For more information, visit https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-advice-care-homes-clinically-vulnerable-and
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 020 7641 1222 (10am to 5pm, 7 days a week).
Call the helpline on 020 8937 1234 open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday or email email@example.com
Due to an anticipated increase in demand and need for home deliveries, we are looking for more people to sign up to give some of their time to help in the local area.
Volunteers sign up to help and stay updated through Better Impact, a platform which should provide all the information you need, which can be accessed through this link.
It is also very useful if new volunteers can join our volunteering Whatsapp group to receive updates and get involved with anything that is going on.
OTHER COMMUNITY BASED EFFORTS
We are happy to connect and coordinate with any other efforts going on in the local area. There is a tab on the google sheet linked above where you can add information for any activities that you are involved with, and email firstname.lastname@example.org
to start communicating with a view to working together more closely.
Please do not volunteer with us if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms; have been in direct contact with someone showing such symptoms; or if you have any health issues that may make you more at risk to COVID-19 (eg. diabetes, high blood pressure)
If you would like to help by contributing , we are primarily looking to build our capacity so that we have the ability to purchase our own stock as and when we need it, as well as increase our capacity in relation to staffing, volunteering, and transport.
This means that standing orders or one-off financial donations are the most effective way of helping. This can be done at www.npfoodbank.org.uk/donate
Physical donations of items are also welcomed. The main way we can receive these is at WECH community centre, Selbourne House, 36a Elgin Avenue, London, W9 3AZ on Tuesdays between 12pm-3pm, Wednesdays between 12pm-4pm and Friday 2.30pm-5pm.
If you would like to donate at this time, or have to arrange another time, please contact email@example.com
If you would like to know what to donate, follow this link.
If you are a support organisation looking to refer someone to our services, please use one of the “FOR REGISTERED REFERRERS ONLY” forms on the tabs below.
Please be aware that we are currently distributing food and essentials mainly by the following means:
Wednesdays, by appointment only: People who are referred and able to come and collect a package from 36a Elgin Avenue, W9 3AZ. We will confirm appointment times with the customer once a referral has been made.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: Deliveries to individuals and households who are self-isolating; have a disability or mobility issue; or are unable to come and collect from the above address due to family/transport issues.
We will be seeking to open more distribution points across North Westminster to allow for easier access to food and essentials, and will provide updates when possible.
If your organisation would like to form part of a more collaborative effort to operate in the current climate, we would like to here from you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We believe that there should be steps put in place to adequately support people, even without there being a public health crisis.
A number of people will be potentially affected by children not being in school; having reduced opportunities to work or other pressures brought about by illness and the efforts to mitigate its effects. This is to add to the large number of people who are already unable to adequately support themselves and their families due to issues with benefits, housing and a number of other problems.
Food aid is no adequate substitute for people having enough money, and people having enough money will be of greater societal benefit as they can spend more time and effort looking after themselves rather than having to seek support from organisations that are already stretched and inadequate to begin with.
There should also be a reliable and consistent stream of information, informed by science and best practice, which ensures that calm is maintained and the public informed. This will help reduce panic buying and issues with the supply of food and essentials to stores across the country, thus helping those who may be unable to afford to purchase large (or any) quantities of items at one time and may be adversely effected by current patterns of buying. This will help reduce the number of people who will need to turn to food aid and allow us to focus our efforts on those who are worst effected, if no other support is available.
Poverty and hardship has a compounding affect on public health risks, and it should be treated as a key area in the efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
This being said, if there is a need, we will step up as we are needed, and look to build our capacity to both prepare for and respond to a rise of need and a change in the nature of these needs.
We would like this to be a collaborative effort with organisations that are also working in this environment, so that those with more skills and expertise can be utilised alongside our service to ensure that help is provided where it is required.
Please see the COVID-19 update at the top of the page regarding volunteering.
If you would like to volunteer with a group from your work/school/community organisation, please fill out the survey above after reading all of the information below:
forming the basis of our service, we then work with groups who would like to volunteer on a one-off/semi-regular basis. This supplements our volunteer numbers so that our core volunteers are not run off their feet every week and giving them opportunities to induct and supervise new volunteers. It also makes them able to carry out their roles under less pressure, whilst exposing new groups of people to the food bank environment, in the hope that they become more informed on the issues in their local area, which may motivate them to help us or another community organisation further.
Overall, bringing in groups, largely from locally based businesses, adds a new dimension to the food bank and creates an even more positive atmosphere in which to work and access support.
As well as this, we look to utilise the professional skills that these groups often bring with them, so we are able to organise problem-solving groups where a certain aspect or problem associated with running the food bank is explored and potential solutions discussed. These have often proven popular both with groups and the food bank, as it provides a different way for professionals to volunteer whilst giving some much-needed expertise and new thinking to the food bank.
Donations are welcome from volunteer groups, with financial donations being the best utilised, as they can be used to purchase the stock we know we need. Groups are also welcome to bring there own physical donations however.
The main volunteering options for groups are:
Distributions: Every Wednesday from 9am-1pm- Working with people using the food bank to put together packages that reflect their needs and preferences.
Collections: Most Thursdays 12-2pm or 4:30-6:30pm, as well as some Saturdays 12-6pm- Distributing leaflets in partner supermarkets to encourage food donations.
Cupboard sorting: Fridays 3pm-5pm- Sorting donations and the food bank cupboard in preparation for Wednesdays distribution, as well as potentially supporting some people collecting packages.
Problem solving/workshops: Organised individually by each group.
Financial donations – small and large, regular and one-off – are the best way to support North Paddington Food Bank as they allow us to make our own purchases of items we need from suppliers and wholesalers. Such donations can be made here.
If you are a UK taxpayer you are eligible to claim gift aid on your donation, which increases the amount we receive by 25%, so please be sure to include it if you are eligible.
To find out more about why financial donations are more effective, read our physical vs financial donations tab below.
Donations of food and essentials are really appreciated and put to good use. Details on what to donate are at the bottom of this tab. First, here are a few options for making such donations.
Making a food donation through Bankuet means that a package of items that we have chosen will be delivered to us at a time that suits us.
If you have organised a collection at your school, place of work, worship or socialising and have a lot of items (basically too many to fit into a car), delivery can be prearranged with the manager through email@example.com. Usually, you will be directed to the WECH community centre on a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday (3pm-4pm, most preferable) afternoon.
Alternatively, they can be dropped off directly to our distribution on Wednesday morning, ideally before 9am.
REQUEST A PICK-UP
If you need your items collecting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a picture of the donations and information for collecting so that the manager can make arrangements for your donations to be picked up. It may take us up to a week to be able to collect donations.
ONLINE GROCERY ORDERS
If the donation is in the form of an online grocery order, please email email@example.com to agree a time and to get a mobile phone number to put on the order.
If you are able to carry your donations, or can fit them into a car (and don’t need a van), you can either follow the above instructions, or they can also be dropped off to the following locations:
WECH office between 9:30am-5:30pm Monday-Thursday and 9:30am-12:30pm on Fridays.
-Supermarket collection points, normally found after the tills: Waitrose, 38 Porchester Road, London, W2 6ES
-Sainsburys, Canal Way, Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5AA
-Sainsburys Local, Station Concourse, Paddington Station, London, W2 1HB
-Sainsburys Local, 12a Sheldon Square, London, W2 6EZ
Food donations make an important contribution to our service and suit a lot of donors who want to know that they are contributing to something that will suit a particular need. However, with the high levels of varied demand that we are currently experiencing, relying too heavily on physical donations raises a few issues when considered alongside the food banks operational and logistical capacity. This means that regular donations of as little as £2 per month are the most efficient, cost-effective and best way to support the North Paddington Food Bank.
We currently distribute around 2,500-4,000 items per week. We have the budget to purchase around 800-1,000 of these (at a cost of between £250-£400). We would like to increase this amount so that it makes up around 60-70% of the items we distribute, still leaving a significant amount of our items distributed coming from physical donations. Please read on to see why we would like to take this approach:
In short, we cannot receive fresh food donations unless they are delivered directly to our distribution on a Wednesday morning, as we do not have the storage capabilities.
Regular financial donations
Having the budget will mean that we can purchase fresh food as and when it is needed (for distributions, home deliveries and emergency referrals) from local grocers on Harrow road. This will provide a more nutritionally balanced package whilst also meeting more of the specific dietary requirements of people using the food bank.
Whilst many donors kindly drop donations off to us, it is not always possible. We do not own a vehicle and have one full-time member of staff (the manager), with some volunteer time to assist. This means that, with the use of a taxi or Zipcar, the manager will move most donations themselves, which is no problem for a few donation points, but risks becoming a time-consuming task if required collections are too many.
Collections then have to occur at suitable times for those donating the items. As we only have access to our food cupboard twice a week, donations cannot always be put straight into storage, which means we have to put them in our office (where we are kindly hosted by housing association WECH) and then move them again when we are able to get into the cupboard, increasing the time taken to sort the food.
Regular financial donations
With the correct amount of funds, we are able to purchase the items we need either from a wholesaler or supplier and delivered to us at a time we know that we have access to our cupboard and when there are volunteers to sort them for distribution.
There are periods of the year in which we will receive large amounts of donations that more than meet the needs of the people using the service, namely Easter, the harvest festival period and Christmas. Whilst this increases the logistical pressures explained above further, it is manageable and worthwhile over the short periods that they are coming in.
The issue arises with the fact that outside of these periods, physical donations do not meet the needs of the service, particularly now, as demand continues to grow month on month, year on year.
This means that we need to rely on other means to get the large number of items required during quieter donation periods.
Regular financial donations
Having a consistent, higher regular income to cover the purchase of items will mean that we are able to provide the items required year round whilst continuing to use holiday periods to receive larger donations from our supporters.
RELIABILITY AND QUANTITY
Whilst we do have our shopping list to provide information on what to donate, and what is physically donated will go to good use, we do not always get exactly what we need at the correct times.
Physical donations will always have larger numbers of certain items alongside those that can be used that week, which can serve to take up our limited storage space.
Alongside this, some items that we regularly need are not donated as often, as they may not be available in the places we receive donations, or they are too expensive. An example of this is gluten or dairy free food products. Whilst only a small amount of these items are needed, when we do not have them it can make a big difference to the person receiving the package.
It is also the case that we will receive unsuitable items (already open, out of date, without clear instructions etc), which cannot be used. All items also require date checking and counting, which can be time-consuming and impractical considering the access restrictions we have on our storage space.
Finally, the home deliveries we make require special purchases even when we have large amounts of physical donations coming in due to the specific, usually medically based, needs of the person receiving the package.
With this considered, physical donations will continue to play an important part of what we use as it can provide some much appreciated variation on what we distribute. In order to maintain the stock levels of what we need however, financial donations can play a big role.
Regular financial donations
If we are able to use some of the resources that go into physical donations, we can make sure that the items that we bring in are those that we know we need based on the needs of the people using the service at the time that they are needed.
We know the approximate amount of each item we use on a weekly basis and the specialist items that it is important to have consistent access to, whilst items being ordered by us are already date checked and quantities already recorded, saving time, resources and reducing the chance of having unsuitable items.
We realise that around our area and the areas that donors purchase items from may be smaller or more expensive stores, where the items being donated could be brought for cheaper and in larger quantities elsewhere, which has an effect on the amount of items we end up getting donated to us.
Regular financial donations
With regular funds, we are able to purchase more items at a lower cost from places identified by us as being affordable with good quality. This means that all of the resources being put into the food bank are being used as efficiently as possible to serve as large and diverse a group of people as possible.
You can give a one-off donation or a sign-up to donate monthly through www.npfoodbank.org.uk/donate. If you are a UK taxpayer you are eligible to claim gift aid on your donation, which increases the amount we receive by 25%, so please be sure to include it if you are eligible.
If you are able to collect your package, you will be contacted by one of our team after we have received your referral. You will then be given a time to come and collect and sent a text with instructions and our address.
When talking to someone who may not have been in a food bank before, the same questions or assertions will often come up. I thought it would be useful therefore to answer (in relation to North Paddington food bank at least) them here rather than bury them in among the rest of the information you can find on this website, although to get a full picture on how the food bank works and how best for you to engage with it you should have a look through the rest of the content available..
What are the items that you most need donating?
This is more of a case what we do not need donating as much. See below for a categorisation of what we need to restock on a weekly basis, what needs restocking slightly less regularly and items that we tend to not need donating as often because they are the most popular items to donate and we regularly find ourselves overstocked.
- Tinned fish
- Tinned meat
- Tinned soup
- Tinned fruit
- Tinned tomatoes
- Long-life milk
- Nappies size 4
- Nappies size 5
- Nappies size 6
- Jams and spreads
- Pasta and cooking sauces
- Soap/shower gel
- Toilet paper
- Nappies size 3
- Baby food
Do not need donating regularly
- Baked beans
- Women’s sanitary products
- Nappies size 1
- Nappies size 2
Who uses the food bank?
There is no single majority or group who uses the food bank more, people of all ages, backgrounds and situations come for support for a variety of reasons.
Why do people need to use the food bank?
(By no means a full description of the causes of food bank use, with more time and research we hope to be able to provide more information in the future). The experiences of people accessing the food bank are varied, however, there are some consistencies and patterns of use which reveal some of the larger issues pushing people into hardship.
Two of the key underlying issues are:
- Debt- Large amounts of debts across many households related to rent arrears, costs built up over periods of illness or lost benefits and other reasons.
- Benefits issues- Many people have long and protracted situations in which they are trying to access benefits they need to live comfortably with illness or disability but have been declared fit for work; others have been sanctioned for not supposedly meeting the terms of their benefits whilst others are experiencing the waiting period for universal credit, which is then contributing to the debt issues explained above.
These overriding issues are then amplified by other factors, which can be reasons for food bank use in their own right, examples being:
- Familial issues
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Immigration and asylum issues
- Loss of work or low income
- Illness and disability
- Mental health
- Housing issues
Do food banks help homeless people?
Sometimes, but homelessness and the other causes that will bring someone to needing a food bank are complex and most people who use the food bank will have some sort of accommodation. Most are in their own home, but are struggling with costs due to issues with benefits and income. Others will be in hostels, refuges, staying with friends/family or temporary accommodation.
Many of the items that we offer are largely unsuitable to people who are sleeping rough, and other organisations in the area (such as the West London day centre) are more suitable to meet their needs. If someone who is sleeping rough is referred to the food bank though, we do provide what we can (such as food that doesn’t require cooking and toiletries) however they only make up a minority of the people accessing our service.
Do people try and cheat the system?
I really considered not providing a response to this question, as it is normally asserted by those with little understanding of food banks and the situations of those who use them, creating a toxic environment around those experiencing hardship and putting people off accessing a food bank when they may need it. However the amount it gets mentioned warrants some response.
We ensure that we understand as best as possible the situations that have brought people to the food bank so that we can have an idea as to how long they may need support and any other help that could be provided, which is why we operate on a voucher system and work with specialist referral agencies.
This is then balanced alongside a welcoming and supportive environment, in recognition of the fact that stigma may make it difficult for many people to ask for such help. We do not want people to feel like they cannot ask for help when they need it and want them to come to us when they need us rather than feel judged. If we treated people like they were cheating us by asking for food, people would be less likely to ask for help when most needing the service, and they will already have enough hoops to jump through relating to the issues that have brought them to us, so accessibility combined with understanding creates as good an environment as possible in which people can access support.
Food doesn’t immediately spring to mind when thinking about the 1960s Civil Rights Movement but it played an important role. During the initial stages, much of America and Britain were segregated and black people were not seen as equal but viewed as less human by their white counterparts. They were often refused access to white owned eateries and faced ridicule and physical abuse if they dared to enter such establishments. Discrimination based on skin colour has blighted humanity for centuries; we can’t claim civilisation whilst this abomination persists.
Jessica Carbone, a curatorial associate of food history at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History said, “By focusing on the foods that were sustaining to so many of the people during this period, we see how much the right to gather for a meal matters on both a personal and political level,” (National Geographic, Schutzer, Paul 2016).
North Paddington Foodbank (NPFB) stands united against all forms of discrimination, racism and injustice. The killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis USA, reminded us once again that we cannot and should not tolerate racism in any form or from any person. There are still many injustices to overcome but as leaders in our communities, we have an important role to play in challenging all forms of inequality. We are dedicated to working with our communities to bring about meaningful change.
We don’t have all the answers yet but we are committed to listening, and to learning how we can most effectively challenge inequality and stamp out injustice. COVID-19 has tested our community, and throughout this challenging period of time we as a local community have shown our strength, resilience and support for each other, irrespective of our differences. Sadly we have seen a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people who are from Black and Asian communities which has been deeply worrying.
North Paddington Foodbank will always support the right to peaceful protest. During this challenging time it is vital that we all stay as safe as possible and maintain social distancing to stop the spread of this virus.
NPFB was founded by a group of woman, the majority of whom where Black, therefore please know that here, we honestly believe that Black Lives Matter. Please stay safe and well.
There are a number of organisations carrying out important work in the areas of racial justice. A summary of some of them can be found here.