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City bankers give Stepney urban farm £30,000 lifeline to get through Covid crisis

PUBLISHED: 09:09 13 November 2020

A 'furry animal' therapy project at Stepney city farm in 2015 helping improve lives of the elderly and those in care homes. Picture: Remi Bumstead

A 'furry animal' therapy project at Stepney city farm in 2015 helping improve lives of the elderly and those in care homes. Picture: Remi Bumstead

Remi Bumstead

The troubled Stepney City Farm that faces being £27,000 in the red caused by the coronavirus lockdown is getting a cash lifeline by City bankers.

Popular public activity... feeding the animals. Picture: Stepney City FarmPopular public activity... feeding the animals. Picture: Stepney City Farm

It has received £30,000 from Lloyd’s of London Foundation to help respond to the effects of the pandemic and see it through the emergency.

The three-acre farm opposite St Dunstan’s Church was unable to furlough essential staff who were needed to feed the animals, maintain operations and keep isolated people in the community supplied with affordable fresh produce.

The cash is to help make sure it remains an East End “oasis for isolated or vulnerable people” when the lockdown is over.

“This donation will have a significant impact in the coming months,” associate farm trustee Ed Gaze said. “It reflects the work we do in the community that’s so close to Lloyd’s home in the City.”

Two famously popular bovine creatures down on the farm until three years ago were Lloyd and Leila. Picture: Stepney City FarmTwo famously popular bovine creatures down on the farm until three years ago were Lloyd and Leila. Picture: Stepney City Farm

The working farm is one of the organisations around the country getting a slice of a £15 million package of grants from the foundation.

Most of its income vanished overnight when the first lockdown started.

Around 45 per cent of its running costs are normally covered by charitable income with activities such as corporate volunteering days, venue hire, donations and rental income.

All that went by the board when the pandemic began. Its financial loss for April to June alone was £27,000.

Lloyd’s chief John Neal said: “Unrestricted emergency funding is what is needed right now to ensure such organisations survive and continue to provide vital services to the community.

“Charities face extreme financial constraints during a time where demand for their services continue to rise, as they care for those most vulnerable.”

The farm in Stepney Way is currently closed during lockdown, but in normal times is a thriving educational facility through sustainable farming, with learning programmes and activity for children, pensioners, the disabled and those with learning difficulties. It was given funding in 2016 from the Veolia Environmental Trust to open up to the public and make more accessible to the disabled with a new path through the main areas suitable for wheelchairs. A hearing loop was also installed and rest stops created.

The cash from Lloyds is aimed to get Stepney City Farm through the global crisis and come back as “an oasis of tranquillity” and green space at the heart of the East End with 5,000 schoolchildren benefiting from free classes and projects every year.


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