BACA feed up to 65 people a day in Ilford and are helping NHS support those in self-isolation


London: The work of the British Asian Christian Association in Ilford has expanded to help a burgeoning number of needy people. We now provide a foodbank at 9am. Alongside our foodbank we provide some hot meals prepared by Singh Sabha East London.

We are also providing daily evening meals for the homeless and financially hard-up and are being helped by Rotary International who provide western meals five days a week, and from many local volunteers from a wide variety of faiths. This includes Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and atheists and is bolstered by regular evening meals by Singh Sabha East London.

Our foodbank is supported by Tesco Metro Collier Row, Tesco Extra Gallows Corner, Tesco Express Forest Gate, Tesco Express Barking, Waitrose Buckhurst Hill and Waitrose South Woodford. The food they are providing is now distributed externally on the car park of the Prince of Wales Pub, Green Lane, Ilford, and we thank Pub-landlord David Christof for permission granted for this purpose.

Our work is being recognised by the local community and two Muslim women Lydia and Asma are regularly preparing food and local Sikh woman Davinder Kaur has been volunteering and also regularly preparing a meal every week. This has taken the burden off Juliet who was for the first two weeks of our project required to cook every day. Every day local small grocers have been providing some food to give away at our foodbank and Cost Effective Supermarket on the corner of Gordon Road and Green Lane has also provided space in his freezer.

After a supportive visit from Redbridge's Environmental team we took our food programme event away from the public streets. By using road cones provided by them, are now able to organise a queuing system within the Prince of Wales Car Park in it's entirety, ensuring that a safe social-distancing practice occurs between visitors to our project while protecting the wider community.

Redbridge Food hygiene team have continuously been a vein of very useful information, who we often refer to for advice. Their help has ensured our operational practices are as safe and clean as possible.

Thanks to the numerous offers of local support we have been able to use some of our funds to provide toiletries to the local homeless community.

We have been providing some of our surplus food gifts to Redbridge Council's Ryedale Centre, which is the main registration point for local homeless people. BACA has directed over 10 rough sleepers (from among our visitors and those we meet at their place of residence) to the centre over the last few weeks and have seen nearly all of them receive temporary shelter for the duration of the current lockdown. Two of our regular visitors are still awaiting a decision - this aspect of our work has been a rewarding experience.

Homeless groups from Hackney, Deptford and Walthamstow and an asylum women's support group, have sought help for clients they support who have been moved to Ilford, as we take an increasingly pivotal role in local homeless support.

BACA has on some days had a huge surplus of food and has been supporting Bethel Centre, in Barking, London with food donations, Bethel are a Christian homeless support charity that has been running for 4 years.


One aspect of our foodbank that has been particularly exciting is the number of Eastern European Migrants who visit from the Romany people, who are usually a very insular community. Many of them have joined our queues and have been interacting well with others from diverse backgrounds. Pregnant women and those with small babies are prioritised in our queues without any argument. We hope that the community spirit that is emerging as a consequence of the pandemic has long and far reaching positive repercussions for the future.

Our work supporting people self-isolating has grown with over 25 people receiving support from us. We are now also working directly with the NHS to provide shopping, foodbank and prescription support for some of their self-isolating clients.

Volunteer Hannah Chowdhry, said: "The number of people we are supporting has increased exponentially.

"Every day we serve new people as well as more regular visitors.

"So far we have been able to ensure every visitor gains something from us, however, there are days this can be a very small food gift.

"It has been heartening to see the number of local people who drop food items and who have offered volunteer services, without whom we would not be able to continue."

We cannot continue providing this help without your support. If you would like to donate to our work in the London Borough of Redbridge please click (here)

On 24th April 2010 BACA's Juliet Chowdhry was called by national charity Housing Justice who were informed about our services via some of the end users. During that conversation Juliet agreed for them to promote our daily food services to homeless people in London, which should result in an increase in visitors to our morning and evening food programmes. The Housing Justice officer is well aware of the lack of food provision for many homeless people placed in hotels and the need for our continued effort. Please help us support these vulnerable people.

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