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Meet the teens running a community food shop on an inner London estate

5 min read

Better Society
Source: Instagram/RISE365

A group of teenagers are helping run a community food shop on an estate in Hackney where anyone who needs help can get enough food to feed a family for a week for £8.

Hackney Youth step up to help their community

For almost a year now, youth organisation RISE 365, community group Made Up Kitchen and a team of young volunteers have been looking after their neighbours in the inner London Borough of Hackney with a Community Food Response Programme, distributing nearly 30,000 culturally appropriate dishes, and over 20,000 bags of shopping to date. They currently provide weekly shopping to over 200 (mostly African and Caribbean) families and, unfortunately, this number is rising.

These young men choose to look after their community and give their time for others. Don't get caught up in the mainstream media narrative, the MAJORITY of young people are amazing human beings.
Be the change you want to see in the world. These young men choose to look after their community and give their time for others. Don’t get caught up in the mainstream media narrative, the MAJORITY of young people are amazing human beings. Source: Instagram/rise.365

They started the shop so people can cook their own meals and feed their families cheaply

A group of young people on a Hackney estate are giving up their free time to run a community food shop for their neighbours. Twenty-five volunteers – some as young as 15 – work at the Kingsmead community food shop every week. They manage deliveries, put together food bags and even hand deliver food to their elderly neighbours, reported ITV last week.

Anyone who lives in the local community and needs help can get enough food to feed a family for a week for £8. 

Some of the young people have lived on the estate in Hackney their whole lives – and told ITV News London working at the shop has given them a purpose. 

The project was started by Joyclen Buffong from youth organisation Rise365, and Kiran Chahal from Made Up Kitchen who make community meals from surplus food. 

They began delivering hot meals to local people during the pandemic, and have now started the shop so people can cook their own meals and feed their families cheaply. 

Some of the food is donated by charities like the Felix Project, but the team say they need more funding to keep the shop going. 

Source: ITV

“It is a total privilege to help nourish our community... and we want to make it easy... easy for people to make dishes filled with goodness, with nutrients, but to also have some treats, some bits for quick meals... and most importantly: flavour!”
Overfilled bags of high-quality, nutritious food about to be delivered. “It is a total privilege to help nourish our community… and we want to make it easy… easy for people to make dishes filled with goodness, with nutrients, but to also have some treats, some bits for quick meals… and most importantly: flavour!” Source: Instagram/madeupkitchen

A beacon of light in turbulent times

The Kingsmead Estate in Hackney has seen turbulent times over the past few decades, with youth violence at high levels in the area. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded a difficult time on the estate, with young people forced to stay inside and unemployment soaring.

Joyclen Brodie-Mends, who has spent more than 18 years helping young people from the area was determined to make sure they, and the community, had some support. Through her youth organisation Rise 365, she set up the community food shop for those on the estate struggling to make ends meet and enlisted the help of young people in the area to provide some structure in their days.

One of the young people involved in the project, Marvin, 26, who is working two jobs at the moment and lives with his mum and sister on the estate said it saved him from going down the wrong path.

"I’ve lived on the estate my whole life," Marvin told MyLondon. "I’ve seen it change from a bad place you couldn’t even walk through and a lot of crime involved. Joyclen played a big part in my life taking me away from that road. I’ve seen friends go down the bad path, I didn’t want to go down that path.”

Source: MyLondon

scotch bonnet chillies, veg stock cubes, all purpose seasoning, Caribbean curry powder, garlic & ginger paste, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantain, carrots, spinach, red pepper, lentils, rice, coconut oil, kidney beans, black eyed beans, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, red grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, lemon, white bread, eggs, jam, peanut butter, spaghetti, Bolognese sauce, Korma sauce, apple juice, veg soup, tea bags, margarine and chocolate hobnobs.
A typical bag for one family for one week may contain: scotch bonnet chillies, veg stock cubes, all purpose seasoning, Caribbean curry powder, garlic & ginger paste, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantain, carrots, spinach, red pepper, lentils, rice, coconut oil, kidney beans, black eyed beans, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, red grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, lemon, white bread, eggs, jam, peanut butter, spaghetti, Bolognese sauce, Korma sauce, apple juice, veg soup, tea bags, margarine and chocolate hobnobs. Source: madeupkitchen

“ We are the people we serve,”

RISE365 is a Black-run, Hackney-based organisation focused on holistic learning for local young people, predominantly from the African diaspora. The organisation creates empowering opportunities to gain knowledge of self & heritage through:

  •  Pan African Classes, Studies in Black British History & Civil Rights 
  • Creative Media Workshops, supporting young people to lead their own narratives
  • Personal and professional growth through 1 to 1 mentoring, self development sessions, providing resources and opportunities to develop entrepreneurial mindsets 
  • Organising Youth Led Initiatives where young people support their community , gaining confidence and self belief in their power to create change.

MADE UP KITCHEN run grassroots projects that nourish, celebrate and empower communities, with food and well-being at the heart. 

‘We are the people we serve, Lived Experience Leaders who believe in building projects run for the people by the people.

Long term, we are planning a Community Street Gym & Garden alongside our Food & Education Programmes, transforming unused land on the Kingsmead Estate to support the mental and physical well being of our young people and the wider community.

So far we have worked with limited funds, constantly applying for and not receiving grants, but our drive and vision in the power of Community Led Solutions is strong. We do this because it’s vital and urgent, and we want to inspire our young people to know they can write their own narratives.’

For more information about their GoFundMe campaign click here.

These community-minded young people are a credit to themselves and to their families.
By the People…For the People These community-minded young people are a credit to themselves and to their families. Source: Instagram/rise.365
Make an Impact

HELP SUPPORT AND EMPOWER HACKNEY YOUTH: GOFUNDME

Long term, we are planning a Community Street Gym & Garden alongside our Food & Education Programmes,  transforming unused land on the Kingsmead Estate to support the mental and physical well being of our young people and the wider community. So far we have worked with limited funds, constantly applying for and not receiving grants, but our drive and vision in the power of Community Led Solutions is strong. We do this because it's vital and urgent, and we want to inspire our young people to know they can write their own narratives.