Southwark food bank has given special thanks to a Met officer who has gone above and beyond to help families in crisis this winter.
Police staff and officers in Southwark have been supporting Peckham’s Pecan food bank this winter, with their donations coordinated by PC Vicky Boswell, based at Peckham Police Station.
She has been collecting donations from her colleagues and volunteer police cadets and personally been helping struggling families in in her role as a response officer, including people in need of extra support from local charities.
Vicky said: “I’ve seen an increase in mental health calls due to the impact of COVID-19; people who have lost their jobs or been furloughed, and more and more people who have felt the impact of isolation, and have struggled to cope without friends and family. Some have lost loved ones and it’s very sad to see people in such a desperate state.
“I did a ‘big shop’ for a family after they had lost their income and didn’t have any school lunch vouchers – both parents had lost their zero-hour contract jobs.
“I know it’s not what police would usually do, but it played on my mind so much, even after I had done everything I could in my role as a police officer.
“The parents had plans to feed their children and not themselves, and were ‘ashamed and too proud’ in their own words to go to the food bank.
“After a lot of explaining and the food delivery after the initial welfare check, they agreed to accept help from their local food bank.
“I also gave them a BMX bike, which someone local to where I live was giving away for free.
“The relief on the parents’ faces when I was able to help them was visible, and I hope that it took the strain off them, so that they could relax for a few days and enjoy time with their children. The dad was in tears.”
She added: “This Christmas the demand is likely to be phenomenal as more and more businesses close or go bankrupt.
“Just putting something extra in your trolley might be the difference in someone eating or not.
“Christmas brings out the best in people and it’s the season of goodwill.
“I believe it’s important that people see the police as normal human beings and caring people, who are willing to help strangers they’ve never met. I think it’s also important for us to recognise how lucky we are ourselves.”
Southwark food bank, run by the charity Pecan, has seen a surge in users this year, with demand regularly outstripping supply.
Last year it supplied 12,000 emergency food parcels in total – a number already surpassed this year by this October.
During April and September the food bank helped nearly 7,000 adults and more than 4,100 children.
A spokesperson from Pecan said: “We want to thank all the staff and officers at the Met Police who have taken part in collecting food for the Southwark food bank and food banks across London.
“We recognise their invaluable service and to go over and above that to collect food for people facing crisis is inspiring.
“A special thank you to PC Vicky Boswell for coordinating and delivering donations.
“We appreciate the effort Vicky has put into developing a close link between Southwark food bank and the Southwark Met Police.
“Vicky has actively maintained a personal connection with the Southwark Foodbank and this is invaluable when building relationships to benefit the wider community.”