Few would have thought that just a month ago our lives would have been turned upside down, through change of routine, limited access to items we like to use or more seriously loss of a loved one. We are all so very fortunate that on a daily basis we have access to food, and a small stock in our cupboards.
The lockdown came and many people’s thoughts were ‘do I have enough to feed my family’? But the truth is, so many people live like this every day of the year and with the change of circumstance fewer donations were being made to local food banks, who supply daily food to people who desperately need it.
Items from food banks go to individuals or families who have limited or no income, or those who are particularly vulnerable. There is an official process to apply for food vouchers, which enables people to receive the required food parcels. The Bromley FoodBank has recently changed their process, working with Octopus Energy to provide a delivery service so people no longer need to go out to collect their food package. This is protecting both the public and the volunteers. For full details of how to apply for food vouchers or to find out further info on the FoodBank, please click the link here.
Deva Yoga decided initially to set up a food bank at their studio in Belmont Parade. Business was starting to wind down due to Government advice and Jayne and Greg, owners of Deva, wanted to utilise the space. Mead Road Infant School had already started a food bank but with the school closing imminently it was moved to the studio.
Initially Jayne and Greg popped a poster in the studio window to encourage locals to drop off food items and then using their own client database and Visit Chislehurst the food bank began to snowball. As Government guidelines began to change it wasn’t feasible to have people coming to the studio to drop off items, so Jayne and Greg began a collection service. Emails are sent to Greg to advise of donations for the food bank or the PRUH (Princess Royal University Hospital). As the project has developed, the team has expanded to other volunteers from the community. Greg collates all the emails and then co-ordiates the logistics and pickups Every Monday morning, the team are given a list of collections and then meet at a central point where all donations are loaded into a van and one drop is made to the PRUH and one to the FoodBank.
Jayne linked directly with the Manager of the Bromley FoobBank, making it easier for them to deliver outside normal working hours. They’ve had all sorts of items donated, including a quick collection of Easter Eggs, which were donated to the children’s ward at the PRUH.
The overall response by local people has been amazing. Some days the team have had up to 54 collections in one day. Local street residents are collecting between themselves and then donating. Deva have received huge volumes of items, and they just keep coming. Everything is used and there is never too much of one item. There are weekly requests from both the PRUH and FoodBank on items that they are low on which is updated on both Visit Chislehurst and Deva’s social media, so please do keep an eye out.
Speaking with Jayne and Greg we asked how they have found the time to run such a huge operation. Jayne said, ‘There is always a little more time in the day if you squeeze really hard 🙂 We believe that this is the most important work right now. Our business is obviously important too, and we also need to help to keep our teachers employed by enabling online classes of Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Mindfulness, which we hope is also helping to keep people in BR7 moving! We have our classes now set up online and we work the collections and deliveries around our schedule. Everything else just fits in, in-between’.
The sense of community has really shone through with the quantity of donations. But will this continue after the lockdown is lifted? Jayne said, ‘Let’s hope so. I believe that it has always been there but people just get busy and caught up. These unexpected circumstances have enabled some people to slow down and take time to not only think about what’s important but to actually have the time to act on it. Thinking and doing for others doesn’t cost anything but gives the biggest rewards. Connecting with people and helping to connect others, what really is better than that!
Finally, Deva Yoga would like to say ‘Thank you!’
‘This is a tough time for everyone and for some people, life really will never be the same. For Deva, this has been a humbling experience to see the generosity and kindness of spirit of so many in our community. The offers of help, the donations, some people making things for others less fortunate… It has certainly brought light to our days. Thank you doesn’t really touch the sides…. its’ far bigger and much stronger than that and I know we speak on behalf of the Bromley FoodBank and everyone at the PRUH who have been involved and benefited from this massive Community collaboration. THANK YOU!