Kathleen Heather, Founder of Love North Southwark, talks about her experience of volunteering and setting up Love North Southwark. Plus the influence of a strong women in her life, her mum -#InternationalWomensDay #GoodNewsStory

(Published 10 March)

"I've always been a community person, bringing bingo and tea dancing to the elderly, by having fun days on the estate green for the community and Christmas, Halloween parties for the children. This all came to an end in March 2020.

So, we started the Foodbank in March 2020, responding to the pandemic with fresh food twice a week. We were serving 200 meals every Tuesday and Friday to the elderly and vulnerable people of the community. 

A company called FareShare got in touch with us and donated food for us to make up food parcels and distribute, we started with 40 a week. As time went on, we had to stop the fresh food but did carry on with the food parcels and we now serve over 130 parcels to the community a week!

We have found throughout 2020 that we were helping people who had lost their jobs, or were waiting on Universal credit and we also helped families experiencing domestic violence and /or were homelessness within our area. 

After operating out of a few different locations, we are currently based at Cherry Garden Hall on Jamaica Road, Bermondsey. We are hopeful that we will get our own space soon so even more can be achieved. 

We opened a food pantry on 16th February 2021, which is a £5 fee for 15 items. This consists of fresh fruit vegetables, dairy products, frozen items plus tins and breakfast items. We had 14 people on our first week and we are expecting over 20 as more people get to hear about us. 

We’ve continued to do the food parcels and are now called Love North Southwark. We became CIC registered in December 2020 to help receive funding as we have done most of the Foodbank on donations and on a shoestring, so we need to get funding. 

We also ran a 'Toy Drive for Christmas' with an appeal to the Bermondsey people to buy a new toy for the children of Bermondsey, so they would wake up with a Christmas present and we sent 103 Christmas presents out. This is one of my favourite times in all I have done, to think we made so many families and they children happy that day! 

Last year I received the Keib Thomas Active Citizen of the year award from Community Southwark’s Southwark Stars awards, which I was very proud of as I don’t really put myself forward to say what I do. I just get on with it. 

I have had very strong woman in my life, my mum is my hero. She is 87 years old and still going strong, working all her life as most women of her age did, but at the end never paid enough stamp duty to get a good pension. 

Woman have come along way over the last 10 years, they have better job opportunities and are gradually getting recognised more with equal opportunities.

My other wish would be to see more women road cleaners, as I feel they would make a better job of keeping our streets cleaner and recycling better, just my thoughts!".

Love North Southwark Foodbank

To make a donation and to find our more about Kathy and her FoodBank, please visit the webpage here

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