Will you sponsor reporter’s #foodbankchallenge for vital poverty charity Sufra NW London?

PUBLISHED: 11:13 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:01 30 October 2019

Nathalie Raffray with non-perishable food ahead of her week-long foodbank challenge for Sufra. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

Nathalie Raffray with non-perishable food ahead of her week-long foodbank challenge for Sufra. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel


Could you live on a foodbank parcel for five days while raising money for a vital food poverty charity?

That's what I'm about to find out: I signed up last week and now I await my parcel.

From Monday to Friday next week I'll live on whatever this small Stonebridge charity gives me and I can wager it won't include much perishable (fresh) food.

When the charity in Pitfield Way launched in 2013 - the year my own eviction battles ended - it was giving out 20 food packages a week to people in dire financial difficulties.

Last year, it distributed emergency food aid to 9,542 people who were all referred by an outside organisation and issued with food vouchers.

The statistics are horrifying.

More than 45pc of children in Brent live in extreme poverty, according to figures from End Child Poverty.

It's as high as 51pc in Dollis Hill.

Some 11,585 households receive Universal Credit, say the DWP.

In 2003, when my son was a year old, I lost my magazine job, our home and my relationship with his dad all at the same time.

A decade of multiple "lease-end" evictions from private and then temporary accommodation followed, which was mightily depressing.

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Back then, there were government-funded Sure-Start activities for me and my son, and council-funded programmes.

In 2013, we were offered a flat with a secure tenancy and rent 60 per cent cheaper.

I progressed in my job, and despite a low salary can pay all my rent, fuel, water and council tax bills.

I can eat out occasionally too (tax credits and child maintenance helps - both will go when my son turns 18).

It seems like the drawbridge went up after me. Food bank demand is flourishing, no doubt due to the introduction of bedroom tax, benefit sanctions and benefit caps on increasingly high rents.

On Sufra's website it says: "With demand for our Food Bank at an all-time high, our stocks are in urgent need of replenishment.

"Please give generously to help us fight poverty in our local community.

"Together, we can be there for people when they need us the most - and give them back their hope and dignity."

Sufra says it costs under £25 to make up a weekly food parcel.

It is asking challengers like me to note down and take pictures of what we make, and post them on social media using #foodbankchallenge and tagging @SufraNWLondon.

I'm not known for meal planning so it will be a challenge.

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