As we settle into the ‘new normal’, Wanstead resident and lockdown hero Frank Charles reflects on how the pandemic has affected his charities, the Frank Charles Give a Gift Appeal and Feed the Streetz
Prior to lockdown, the Frank Charles Give a Gift Appeal sourced and delivered presents to children in hospital over the festive period, gifted presents and experiences to children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses and their siblings throughout the year, took families living in poverty to the seaside every summer and hosted Christmas parties to families on low incomes. The restraints of lockdown and social distancing have severely curtailed our activities on this side of the charity, although we are planning a much-reduced seaside experience later in August.
From the beginning of March, when the severity of the pandemic became apparent and more and more charities stopped taking food to rough sleepers, the other branch of my charity, Feed the Streetz, increased the frequency of deliveries of breakfast bags and personal hygiene bags in both Stratford and Ilford. We continued this for a few weeks until the homeless were given temporary housing.
During lockdown, I also set up a foodbank, which I run from home delivering weekly bags of essentials to families all over east London. Some are referred by other foodbanks, some by social services, others by word of mouth. Because of the risk to the service users from public transport, I am delivering all the bags myself at the moment, but am keen to find premises somewhere in the local area from where I can operate, with clients coming to pick up food themselves.
For the first couple of months of lockdown, I took ready-made meals, cakes, fresh fruit and hand cream to the NHS staff at Whipps Cross Hospital daily, although, as the crisis has lessened, this has now been reduced to once a week. We have also taken food to fire, police and ambulance stations and care homes across east London, and have sourced, made up and supplied face shields to local GP surgeries, Whipps Cross Hospital, Newham General Hospital, care home staff and pharmacies in Wanstead.
With the closure of charity shops during lockdown, Feed the Streetz has also offered furniture, iPads, TVs, clothing and shoes to families in need. To witness the joy on a child’s face when they can access their school work on their own iPad is extremely rewarding.
I’d also like to highlight the work of children who have shown initiative and community spirit by holding fundraising events for us. In June, a group of children in Oak Hall Road held a cake and toy sale, raising £205. And two keen dancers from Palmers Green raised £80 for our charity by putting on a dance performance every Thursday evening for three weeks.
I’d like to thank everyone who has and continues to support the charity in every way.