Gogglebox star helps at soup kitchen

Sandra Martin with Gogglebox co-star Sandi Bogle

Residents have donated a record haul of food and supplies for families less well off than themselves.

Norwood and Brixton Foodbank collected more than six tonnes of meats, vegetables, fruit and drink in the weeks leading up to Christmas – up to a tonne more than in any previous year.

And Brixton Soup Kitchen, which is only four years old, will be serving more meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than ever – with the help of Gogglebox star Sandra Martin.

Foodbank manager Jon Taylor said: “The community has gone into overdrive. Donations have been pouring in during the past few weeks. We have collected a record amount. We are overwhelmed by the support people have given us and the amounts people are bringing in. It is really busy. People do still care, despite the claims in the media about compassion fatigue.

“It feels like a privilege to be a part of what is going on. It has been very heartwarming to see so much generosity. We have had donations from corporate companies and their managers giving up their time to help – and bringing their children.

“We passed our record for donations after just three days at two different stores. People have been donating gifts, too.”

Brixton Soup Kitchen, based in Coldharbour Lane, expects to serve more than the 250 meals it handed out last year.

One of the helpers will be award-winner Ms Martin, who is herself from Brixton, travelling around the capital from 4pm to past midnight in Christmas Eve.

Soup kitchen founder Solomon Smith, 32, said: “We have reached capacity for volunteers – 680 people have called in the past two months. That is one of the biggest ever. It is overwhelming the support we’ve had. Sandra is one of our biggest supporters – she’s been helping out since day one, serving food and going around London giving away sleeping bags and meals.

“She is very community-minded. There are a lot of important organisations in the area helping those who need a hand, but I felt I felt they were not reaching areas like Brixton and Streatham. I saw a lot of people without the basic clothing who could be helped because the rest of us have clothes we don’t wear day to day.

“Instead of complaining, I thought I would just do something about it. It is very easy to do. We all need to eat. We do not have any government support – we rely on donations. And I am signing on – I’ve never had a wage. I hope someone will believe in what we are doing and put their faith in us with regular funding. We want to conquer homelessness by putting a spark in people’s minds. This week I was picking up sleeping bag donations in Dover.

“We help people all over England – not just London. And we have done projects in Miami, New York, Toronto and Spain. We go wherever there are homeless people.”

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