Highgate Newtown Community Centre warns pandemic is still taking ‘huge’ toll as grant funding ends

Nafeisa Guleid, Sandeep Singh, Harry Mackrill, James Morrison-Corley and Sharon White helping out fo

Nafeisa Guleid, Sandeep Singh, Harry Mackrill, James Morrison-Corley and Sharon White helping out for HNCC. Picture: Highgate Newtown Community Centre - Credit: Archant

Highgate Newtown Community Centre (HNCC) says its £30,000 government grant has helped it to reach around 1,000 people per week during the pandemic – but it has warned there is no replacement funding.

The community centre received the grant from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for a seven-week period, which comes to an end on Sunday (August 9).

The £30,000 has been split between Highgate Newtown, Kentish Town Community Centre and Castlehaven Community Centre (CCC).

A large proportion of the grant was spent on fresh fruit and vegetables, and a food bank has been set up at CCC in response to the coronavirus crisis.

HNCC said it was “really grateful” for the Defra grant and the “amazing generosity” of the local community – from businesses to residents to fellow food banks – who continue to donate and support its services through the pandemic.

But Mags O’Reilly, operations manager for HNCC, said the centre’s work is still vital ahead of a potential second wave.

“The pandemic is still having huge impact,” she told the Ham&High.

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“Every week we have more people coming who have been made redundant and lost their jobs.

“Some people’s situation has improved but our numbers aren’t getting any less because as some people start to go back to work and be taken off furlough, there are more people coming on stream who are losing their jobs and being made redundant.

“The work is still really vital to the wellbeing of the community.”

HNCC’s £30,000 grant was allocated from Defra’s food charities grant fund, which has awarded more than £3.5 million to charities in England.

Food minister Victoria Prentis said: “These community organisations have been a lifeline for many – with some even offering delivery services for those who have been unable to leave their homes to get food.

“That is why it is so important that they have the extra support they need at this difficult time.”

To donate to HNCC visit https://www.highgatenewtown.org.uk/donate/

READ MORE: ‘Everybody is in this together’: Highgate Newtown Community Centre helping vulnerable through pandemic