BRIXTON SOUP KITCHEN
At first glance, the Brixton Soup Kitchen, situated on the quiet residential Coldharbour Lane in the thriving South London community, seems quaintly obscure. But hidden within the walls of the whitewashed standalone sit the cogs and sprockets of a virtual lifeline to those in need of food, clothing, and other resources.
The Brixton Soup Kitchen (BSK) opened in January 2013 and quickly earned a reputation as a beacon of hope to the local community in the rising tide of disenfranchisement across London.
“There was some initial hesitancy about coming into this place and admitting that I needed food to help feed my household,” Marcy Stone, 36, told Acumen. “There is this belief that as an able-bodied person in a skilled profession, I should be able to manage food for myself and my daughter. But the cupboards were bare and I felt lost.”
The beautician, who was made redundant after the shop owner went out of business a year ago, said she found it almost impossible to make ends meet and depleted much of her savings following a divorce and relocation. That’s when depression set in and things really began to spiral.
“There were no judgments at Brixton Soup Kitchen — no one scrutinized me or made me feel ashamed. They were driven by a desire to help and made me feel less bitter about my situation,” Stone said.
Solomon Smith and Mahamed Hashi, the founders, and fellow Director, Derrick Anderson, were all youth workers before founding BSK.
On Acumen’s 2018 visit to BSK we accompanied Centre Director Micah Lammie through a tour of the facility for a group of youth preparing to sort food items and clothing.
“The soup kitchen has never taken a penny in government funding and relies entirely on donations from the public and local businesses,” Lammie said. “It relies on the kindness and generosity of strangers and in many instances the volunteer services of those who formerly used the kitchen themselves.”
According to a 2019 Survey of Londoners, 400,000 children in the capital experience food insecurity (GLA, 2019). One in six (17 percent) children in the capital experience food insecurity, along with one in five adults (1.5 million Londoners), 36 percent of single parents, and 32 percent of Black Londoners.
The survey also found that nearly half (49 percent) of parents with children experiencing food insecurity are socially isolated. Sixteen percent of parents from food-insecure households reported being unable to provide balanced meals for their children, and 9 percent said their children did not always have enough to eat. Those figures have been sorely impacted by COVID-19 and the looming uncertainty of Brexit.
Since the pandemic began, BSK has increased its outreach to provide food and emergency packs to those impacted disproportionately by food, housing, and financial insecurity — despite the shuttering of its facility under health protocol.
Throughout lockdown, The Brixton Blog reports BSK has provided meal packs and sundries, deliveries of 150-200 grocery bags/boxes, and more than 500 prepared meals to the doors of those in need each week.
“Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic we are still urging people to give donations because the donations that come in will literally go back out to the people who need it. We are still supporting the homeless, less-fortunate families, and the elderly. We’re giving them hand sanitizers, gloves, food parcels, so we desperately need your support,” Smith said in a social media appeal.
For those interested in supporting The Brixton Soup Kitchen, visit their GoGetFunding page today and consider an ongoing gift.