In mid May 2020 we received £6,300 from this newly set up fund aiming to support poverty relief in the face of COVID-19. With this funding we were able to support over 30 people. 

As most of our members are asylum seekers and facing destitution, we focused on meeting two of their basic needs: Food and internet connectivity. We provided grocery shopping vouchers to 30 members and delivered food ourselves where needed; helping feed them and their families during the height of the pandemic. We also conducted a survey of our members’ data needs and used the outcomes to guide our purchase of internet data for 21 members for four months, either in the form of mobile phone top-ups for some or through the loan of Wi-F devices to others. 

The impact of this funding has been significant as evidenced by responses to a survey we sent our members regarding the support they received during March to July 2020. 94% of respondents said that this positively affected their wellbeing and 100% of respondents said that our COVID-19 and lockdown support was either ‘very important’ or ‘critical’.

Lockdown – I had nothing. No thought of Tesco’s. It came from someone’s big effort. Very grateful.

Many of our members have found it a struggle to afford to feed themselves adequately. Overnight the network of charity food and clothing services and drop-ins where they could get a free meal or a food voucher were forced to close their doors. Their difficulties were compounded by the fact that food prices in their local shops rose noticeably or were erratic, which made it impossible to budget properly on the average government allowance for asylum seekers of £5.39 per day. Some of our members are not even entitled to that sum and have zero income. Those who were street homeless or in homeless shelters or dormitories were generally placed in hotel rooms, but the food was often inadequate. With the supermarket vouchers we emailed to our members’ phones, every single one of our recipients was able to buy sufficient food, and the extremely stressful fear of going hungry was banished.

Thanks for [sending] vouchers toward my family needs during this very challenging time. It has been truly helpful and I have been able to care and buy my children’s food and basic essential needs.