Owner of Valentines Park Cafe donates to Ilford’s Frenford Foodbank
PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:55 19 October 2020
The owner of an Ilford cafe has made a sizeable donation to his local foodbank after seeing some of his regular customers lining up to receive parcels.
Paul Walton, who has run the Valentines Park Cafe for nine years, told the Recorder he was struck by what he saw: “I was driving one day and saw a queue of people lining up outside a building. At first I thought it was a surgery or something, but then I realised it was a foodbank.
“It affected me because I recognised a few of the people as customers from the cafe. It changed my perception of who uses foodbanks, and I wanted to do something.”
His donation was gratefully received by the volunteers who run the foodbank, including Genevieve Carnell who said Paul’s gesture was one of many which shows how the Redbridge community has come together.
“We’ve been blown away by people’s generosity. I’d say between 80 and 85 per cent of what we receive is donated, and we buy the remainder with cash donations.”
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The Frenford and Redbridge Mutual Aid Foodbank now sends out deliveries every fortnight with the help of volunteer drivers. Its current site is the combination of three separate foodbanks set up at the beginning of lockdown by the borough’s Mutual Aid group.
As Genevieve explains, three facilities were originally in operation at St Gabriel’s Church in Aldersbrook, Prospect Road Hall in Woodford Green (subsequently the Ray Lodge Church) and at Frenford Youth Club.
The decision was made — with the agreement of the club’s operations manager Irfan Shah — to pool all the resources to the Frenford site, with the other two locations reverting back to their original use.
This has created a more “efficient” process, said Irfan, who is also part of the foodbank volunteer team alongside colleagues Daniel Oliver, Sadia Kayani and Neal Akhtar.
Genevieve said: “At the peak of the pandemic we were sending 170 parcels out to families of varying sizes. There is still huge demand, which is why donations such as Paul’s are so important.”
South Ilford MP Sam Tarry, both an acquaintance of Paul’s and frequent visitor to the youth club, also visited the foodbank.
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