Galvanised into social action

The North London Community Consortium meets local need

Cooked and delivered
Credit: Ricardo Johnson

By Karin Lock

One drastic consequence of the coronavirus lockdown has been the devastating loss of so many jobs. Overnight the working lives of many Tottenham residents and workers abruptly stopped, particularly the self-employed who labour in the hospitality, catering, retail, live entertainment,
sports and leisure industries. Without a means of making a living anymore, some have turned to providing mutual aid to give themselves and others hope.

Within hours of the government announcements on 19th March, a group of local individuals (who had first met in January to discuss possible working partnerships) were galvanised into social action because of the halt of their business plans. North London Community Consortium (NLCC) organised a community response to help those in need and began to hunt for a cooking space.

A premises was identified at Watling Street Beer Brewery, in the Triumph Trading Estate in Tariff Road, which was about to close its doors and cancel all events. Rudi the owner offered his fridge and warehouse space for the preparation and distribution of food and other necessary items. This has become NLCC’s headquarters whilst two satellite sites – Tottenham Community Sports Centre and St Paul’s Church, off Park Lane – are drop off points for collection.

The people behind this initiative come from many different fields: Keylon Ross is a singer who can no longer fulfil his tour dates, and Nigel Ansell, a caterer who sells to restaurants and football fans at Tottenham Hotspur matches. Ricardo Johnson is a sports therapist working in football, and Garnett Jones is a youth worker working at Coombes Croft Library. Beverley MacKenzie runs Code 1, supporting community projects in north London, and Susannah Larsson works for a local charity. All now devote themselves to running this essential service full-time.

Team work
Credit: Ricardo Johnson

The group started with six volunteers cooking for 20 people. These were local residents identified as vulnerable, elderly or sick. In four weeks, the operation has expanded to cooking almost 300 meals – including for medical staff at North Middlesex University Hospital, Haringey’s young people in care, and residents of Winkfield Care Home in Wood Green. New addresses appear every day and they are all logged on a central database as well as the HQ’s whiteboard.

Donations come from supermarkets, organisations and local people. Once sorted and cooked, a group of volunteers deliver the food parcels to the community. For example, Larens, a local student whose college has closed, has been delivering food by bike to residents in flats, houses and even barges.

NLCC’s dedication has attracted the attention of both Haringey Council and BBC News London, who featured the organisation in their evening news bulletins last month. An extended programme documenting their exemplary network is to be screened later in the year.

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