City Harvest food deliveries transform the lives of people at frontline charities throughout London. Our food enhances existing programs offered by our partners and enables them to offer additional activities to nourish, engage and educate their communities.
Tucked away amidst the houses of Sands End, Fulham lies SEAPIA, which has harnessed the power of using City Harvest food to change lives in its well-loved and high impact community hub.
SEAPIA provide, amongst other things, an after school and holiday club for 4-11-year olds, an open access drop-off session for 8-13-year olds, an elderly lunch club and a community kitchen.
Sue, who’s been one of the trustees for 38 years, told us that it all began back in 1970 aroundsomeone’s kitchen table. Local residents recognised the need for a safe place for their kids to play,and the Sands End Adventure began.
Initially paid for by the local authority, cuts to this funding threatened the centre with closure. After protests from the local community, to whom the centre is invaluable, they managed to keep it open. Like many other City Harvest food recipients, they are now mostly funded privately, by local businesses and the community with only limited funding from a local council. Julie, the centre manager, told us that it is a constant battle to ensure they have enough money to keep operating and to provide the services they do with staff spending lots of their own time making sure they have the money to keep going.
We asked Julie what the local community was like. “It’s a very diverse area, we have around 10%of the top highest earners and 10% of the most deprived, it’s a real mix of kids who attend but 99% come from low income families. It’s a very tight knit community, if I go to the shop it can take me an hour as everyone I see likes to stop and have a chat. That’s what the centre does, it brings people together.”
Every week day, the centre opens its doors to 40 local children. “More would come but we’ve had to cap numbers due to funding” Julie told us. The kids are given the opportunity to play in thecentre’s spacious playground, participate in arts and crafts and learn new skills in the weekly cooking club. They run recycling workshops to teach the children skills they can take home and pass on to their families. One of the children told us, “We learn how to save things and not wastethings. We all need to look after the planet. I help my mum sort out the recycling, so it’s not wasted.” At 3.30, Julie goes to the local primary school to collect the children. They are then free to choose what they want to do, have a light meal and enjoy time with their friends. Today, Sue cooks up beans on toast.
The hub likes to encourage intergenerational relationships, a concept which has enormous benefitsfor those at either end of life’s course. One of the people who comes to help out is a 90-year-old local resident who runs a much-loved knitting group with the children.
"The whole community benefits from City Harvest. On Fridays we put out a table with fruit andsnacks that City Harvest have given us. Sometimes we get fruit from City Harvest that no one recognises” laughed Julie, “the kids excitedly stand around it and we all have a guess at what it is”. “We can have some fruit whenever we want, it’s very healthy”, one little lad told us. According to Julie, “We’ve had some parents in tears when we’ve given them a bag of food that City Harvest has brought.”
The food City Harvest donates also helps the centre offer a cooking club. The children are given the opportunity to learn about where the food they are using comes from as well as practical cooking skills. We asked some of the children what they had made in the cooking club. We were told “We like pizza best, we put pepperoni, mushrooms and peppers on top”, and “Pineapples,potatoes, vegetables and fruit make you healthy”. One of the girls we spoke to said “We made fruit kebabs, I make them at home if we’ve got the right food, my little brother loves them. We’ve alsomade spring rolls, pizza and burgers. We learn about how to make them healthy. I always make food at home now.”
The centre is in the middle of building two new rooms for the children to play in all paid for by the amazing fund-raising efforts of Julie and her team. “The food donated by City Harvest has made such a difference to our service, not only do the kids get healthy food, but it means we can re-direct the money we would’ve spent on food to other things so we can offer a better service, like art supplies and days out”.
So the future looks bright for the centre. City Harvest will be there along the way to help support the great work the staff provide.
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