Olivia Devereux-Evans talks to the founder of a support group and foodbank that has seen demand surge this year
An Edmonton community project is helping up to 400 people a week – with services including food deliveries and mental health support – as people continue to struggle through the coronavirus pandemic.
Build Achieve Support Empower (BASE) was started by a group of friends in September 2019, following a course with a parent engagement panel at Enfield Council which highlighted that one in four children were not receiving hot meals.
Founder Candice Charles is a childcare educator and said the group expanded faster than she ever imagined when Covid-19 hit earlier this year. The help BASE provides includes food delivery, domestic violence aftercare, child and family support. The volunteers pay for the food which they provide to the community themselves.
Candice said: “We are struggling but it is a nice feeling that you are helping someone else. It does not need to be a headache to help someone.”
The group is based at All Saints Church Hall, Edmonton, and is open all week. Home food deliveries are done from Saturday to Wednesday and the hall is open on Thursday and Friday for collections. Enhanced safety measures are in place for deliveries and collections.
BASE also collaborates with a number of other organisations, including Bread and Butter, Morgan’s Creative Minds and Sonny the Snail’s Sensory Garden in Ponders End. Bread and Butter provides people with frozen meals and food that can be cooked as well as recipes. Morgan’s Creative Minds offers art therapy via Zoom and outdoors to help those affected by the loneliness coronavirus restrictions can bring.
BASE also wants to reduce the stigma around using foodbanks. Candice said: “We try to make more people welcome and show that there is no shame in asking for help.”
In the long-term, Candice wants to be able to grow the food that BASE provides. She now has two allotments, one in Ponders End and one in Edmonton, and is in need of volunteers to help plant fruit and vegetables.
BASE is not limited to Enfield borough and Candice says she often receives South London referrals, which she now does once a week. She wants other boroughs to start similar projects so more people can be helped.
Before the government agreed to support Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign, there was a surge in demand from parents. Candice added: “We were going through bags like it was nothing. It [Marcus’s campign] was a really good thing, and I am glad someone did it.”
BASE is always looking for donations and in addition to food is in need of sanitary towels, baby milk and nappies. It also accepts donations of buggies and cots.