Shop Local: Now ‘social supermarkets’ join traders during lockdown to help families in food poverty

Social supermarkets come on stream to help families get through lockdown. Picture: Poplar Harca

Social supermarkets come on stream to help families get through lockdown. Picture: Poplar Harca - Credit: Poplar Harca

Social food stores for families in need are joining traders to encourage more local shopping during the current Lockdown emergency.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs cuts ribbon to open Food Store in Limehouse. Picture: Poplar Harca

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs cuts ribbon to open Food Store in Limehouse. Picture: Poplar Harca - Credit: Poplar Harca

Two have opened within reach of the DLR on both sides of the Thames, one at Limehouse backed by Tower Hamlets Council, the other at Deptford supported by the Plunkett Foundation.

Families pay a weekly £3.50 membership which gets them access to surplus healthy foods.

The one in Limehouse, simply called Food Store, opened last week at Poplar Harca housing organisation’s Limborough House in Thomas Road, off Burdett Road, which also offers help on how to manage the household debts.

“This is a step up from our food bank scheme,” Food Store’s chief Masoom Ahmed said. “It provides holistic support to weather the impact of food poverty and find the way to prosperous lives.”

Stella Hadley... shortlisted for national award, at her Pepys social supermarket helping Docklands families get through...

Stella Hadley... shortlisted for national award, at her Pepys social supermarket helping Docklands families get through lockdown. Picture: Plunkett Foundation - Credit: Plunkett Foundation

The families are referred by social agencies and housing associations to the scheme for three months, based on need. Advisors then put them in touch with finance experts to help with household budgeting.

Food Store is being managed by Burdett football club, one of the organisations in the Burdett Mutual Aid group during the pandemic, backed by Poplar Harca which provided the space and Tower Hamlets Council providing the cash. The project runs until October next year.

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A similar shop has opened just the other side of the river from Millwall, Pepys social supermarket in Deptford, run by Stella Hadley who is on a shortlist of three for a national award for her “extraordinary dedication and effort” during the pandemic.

Her name is in the hat for the Community Contribution award from the Plunkett Foundation.

Food Store social supermarket in Limehouse well stocked to help East End families. Picture: Poplar Harca

Food Store social supermarket in Limehouse well stocked to help East End families. Picture: Poplar Harca - Credit: Poplar Harca

“It’s like receiving a gigantic warm hug in these trying times,” she said. “Social supermarkets are important to community cohesion, where magic happens to reduce isolation, people coming in and have a chat and just talk for a few minutes.”

She helps Docklands families with food throughout the lockdown on a membership basis paying £3.50 a week for up to £30 of shopping. Deliveries are made to 70 households that can’t get there and another 60 pop in at timed slots.

Her social supermarket helps businesses in the area by using them as suppliers, adding “social value” to the local economy.

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