"IT’S ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY, IT’S EVERYWHERE.”
No-one should be going hungry in 2021. But since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, there has been an alarming increase in families needing support from food charities.
After seeing the struggles faced by a lot of single mums in her area, Tracey decided to set up Guiding Hands, a community interest company that offers food-based programmes and provisions to families in Croydon.
With the support of Comic Relief funding, Guiding Hands provides advice, training and workshops for young mums, to learn about cooking and healthy eating, in a safe, non-judgemental and social environment.
Guiding Hands has also been delivering essential food packages to families across the community, to help ensure that no child goes hungry.
Tracey is amazing. She’s been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, offering vital support to those in need, and spreading positivity and hope in difficult times. She told us about what motivates her, and how worried she is for some families...
A DIFFICULT BALANCE
“Throughout my career I’ve been around mums, and being a mum myself, I’ve seen the struggles that single mums come across.
“You get such stick if you’re not working, but when you do work, the balance of everyday life, work, shool runs, and childcare fees are just so extortionate. It only takes the slightest disruption; a broken washing machine or school trip to make life in the house just that much more difficult and the first thing to be cut is the food.
“In the areas that we work in, in Croydon… I can name seven temporary housing buildings that have got single parents with two or more children living there.”
“We have mums that say to me that they never eat dinner. They never eat dinner! Or they only eat on a Friday or at the weekends."
“It’s all about helping mums.”
“You'd give a mum a potato… and they might think they just have one option of a jacket potato. We can give them the knowledge to be able to make a variety of dishes with just a potato, and help them get the children in the kitchen as well, to make cooking more of a family thing.”
MORE CRUCIAL THAN EVER
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge effect on families across the UK. During the start of the pandemic, it was estimated that around half of people who used a food bank had never needed one before.
Tracey says that the impact was almost immediate: “It was overnight. We heard about the pandemic… and then we went into lockdown and it was like overnight, we had mums phoning us, mums who hadn't contacted us for ages, for years, phoning us.
“[They were saying] ‘What's happening? I've lost my job… I'm short this month’. Not only did we have to deal with the main mums, that used our service on a regular basis, but we then had a two hundred percent increase in mums that we've never met. As well as mums being referred via agencies, doctors and schools.
“I think the pandemic has opened up what's actually happening in England. I don't think people realise the depth of what was happening in England and the people who struggle… It’s all round the country, it’s everywhere.”
“They just didn't have enough money or enough food in the house to be able to feed their family… seven days a week. There just wasn't enough."
We believe that every child has the right to the best start in life.
However, more than 1 in 5 people in the UK are living in poverty - including over 4 million children whose families simply may not be able to afford the good nutrition they need.
Meanwhile, over 2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted by the UK food industry each year – enough to provide 1.3 billion meals.
Comic Relief is supporting projects across the UK, like Guiding Hands, to make sure that every family has what they need and that surplus food is redistributed to those who need it the most.
Your donations mean that we can continue to support superstars like Tracey, both in the UK and around the world, to make sure no child goes hungry and every child has the best possible start in life.