Six hundred families in Palmers Green, Enfield and beyond received a much-needed Christmas treat last month, from a project called “Help for Hunger” based at St Monica’s Catholic Church and run by Rosie Hurndall.
Each family was given a large hamper of food, Christmas treats and gifts and as the families names were given to Rosie discreetly by schools, foodbanks, women’s refuges, social services and community centres, these deliveries came as a complete surprise.
One volunteer who delivered the hamper to a grateful lady commented “She burst into tears!
She was overwhelmed with your generosity! Thank you so much I can’t tell you the smile you put on her face”
This is the third year running that Rosie, a mother of four, and her team of volunteers, put together these hampers and the numbers have grown year on year.
One of the teachers at Alma School who have received hampers for some of their families said: “Several members of staff have commented on your kindness and we know the families will be truly grateful too. One recipient told us last year, that they had not put their Christmas tree up as they did not have any gifts to put underneath it for their children. They said the hamper ‘made’ their Christmas.”
Alongside Rosie’s project, other members of St Monica’s church, Gerry and Jackie Bell, are running a weekly food bank. This was originally set up to provide a temporary solution when food from the Felix Project could no longer be distributed via schools during the first Covid lockdown. Caritas Westminster put out a call to parishes to take over the distribution of food, just as Gerry and Jackie were deciding that they wanted to help. Seeing clear evidence of local need, the couple have continued running the food bank every Monday afternoon, and have become part of Caritas Westminster’s Road to Resilience programme, attending food network events and receiving training on debt and financial security through our Firm Foundations programme.
The Help For Hunger project provide a once-a-year treat for hundreds of families across the whole Enfield area, and the logistical organisation involved in packing the hampers is phenomenal.
Firstly, anonymised names of families, together with ages of the children, are passed to Rosie by many different organisations who come into contact with people who are struggling to make ends meet. Volunteers are then given the details of one family and they make up a hamper according to the family’s needs. Others who can’t make a whole hamper donate money through a Just Giving page. Then another team of volunteers spends 4-5 days in the church hall, packing and wrapping and creating the hampers ready for delivery, either directly to recipients or to the schools and other organisations to be passed on.
Rosie says “It’s organised chaos but it works” adding that at least she only does this once a year, while Gerry and Jackie are running the food bank every single week!
Rosie’s inspiration for Help for Hunger dates back to her own childhood, when her father was ill with cancer and the family were struggling. She has never forgotten the joy when her mother received a hamper of food from work colleagues. She also remembers helping a teacher at her school pack hampers for those in need – and this teacher has since gone on to run her own charity, proving to Rosie what can be done if you set your mind to it. More recently, she was motivated by a teacher friend who was fundraising for a family in financial difficulty. But Rosie has gone beyond supporting just a few families connected with local schools. Even in the first year she provided 68 hampers, and last year the number had grown to 600, 90 of which were given out by Gerry’s Food Bank
Rosie said “I hear heart-breaking story after story from all sources we provide the hampers to. I’m eternally grateful for the help given by the parish and community in supporting me doing this, without this it would not happen. The feedback from the people who receive the hampers makes its all worthwhile and heart-warming, I just wish I could do more.
Rosie would like to thank the Vinci group, Rvoices choir, Tailor Made Living, and St Monica’s school for their fundraising efforts, and all who donated or shared the Just Giving link on social media.
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A visit to Palmers Green Food Bank – January 2022