An interview with Daisy from Central Southwark Community Hub
Central Southwark Community Hub (CSCH)
CSCH was founded by Felicia Boshorin (pictured left, far right), and supports Southwark residents by offering basic provisions for those in need across four sites in Southwark, as well as offering wider support. CSCH runs a food bank, and advice for people to help address their difficult social circumstances, including linking in with other organisations and services, employment support and business skills, and various CSCH-run supportive groups and skills workshops. Listen to the latest episode of the Community Bridges podcast here to hear more about CSCH’s remarkable work.
Meet Daisy – using data to improve services
I spoke with Daisy Cullen Close, referral coordinator and data analyst for CSCH, to hear about her involvement with the organisation. Daisy is currently studying for a law conversion course, and discovered CSCH on social media. Daisy was looking for opportunities to help out with the charity sector, and started volunteering with CSCH at the end of February 2020, at the beginning of pandemic. After speaking with CSCH’s founder and CEO Felicia about how she could best help the organisation, they decided that Daisy’s skills could helpfully be used to create a database and tracking system for people using CSCH’s services. For the last 2 months, Daisy has worked with CSCH 3 days a week.
Daisy’s new role felt particularly important with the pandemic unfolding, with the hope to use data to assist securing grants and funding to cope with the increase in demand. Daisy has created a system to track referrals and service use, including what communities service-users are coming from (e.g. ethnicity, areas in Southwark). Daisy tells me that 61% of people using CSCH identify as Latin American, and over 20% West African, with the majority coming from Bermondsey. CSCH provides culturally-appropriate meals where possible to meet the needs of the communities it serves.
Data from the new tracking system reveals that CSCH have helped 2370 households in Southwark since April 2020 (60% of whom are families, with 2650 children), and over 120 volunteers have worked throughout the pandemic to help deliver food to those who needed it (including Jack, pictured right). Social media has been helpful in recruiting volunteers and securing additional donations needed. On average, the hub supports approximately 200 families a week.
Far more than a food bank
CSCH has also worked with local services to support its’ community, receiving referrals from people who have lost their job during pandemic; CSCH assesses their situation and needs, and signposts to other organisations, as well as providing food for an appropriate period of time. CSCH run a Holiday Club for children who receive free school meals during term times, but in holidays who would go without. Activities are run in the holiday club too. These will be especially important in the coming weeks given the government’s refusal to extend holiday food vouchers for children, and with an anticipated demand of the use of food banks as London moves to more restricted lockdown measures this winter.
Daisy has been struck by the number of people using CSCH who have no recourse to public funds. These individuals can’t work or receive government support, such as housing or benefits, so are relying on vital food bank services to feed their families. CSCH runs a supportive groups for mothers with no recourse to public funds, which offers support with employment, confidence, and even textiles, pampering and make up skills.
What’s it like to work at CSCH?
Daisy speaks fondly of the organisation, “it is such a different organisation, you couldn’t work anywhere else like it!”. Working alongside staff and volunteers who have used the services themselves, Daisy has learnt from her colleagues about what it means to live through difficult times in the past, and it motivates her to do better. Daisy feels lucky to work in CSCH and has learnt a lot about her community which she didn’t know before. Helping others during the lockdown helped Daisy to cope, “people can feel lost, not knowing what to do with themselves in these tricky times, if you go out and try and make a difference to the situation, it makes you feel a lot more in control of it”.
CSCH rely on donations to continue the amazing work they do in our local community. The public were very generous at the beginning of the pandemic, but donations are needed for CSCH’s vital work to continue. If you can, please donate using the link below. CSCH are about to launch an appeal for Christmas hampers which will provide families with a Christmas meal and some presents for children who would otherwise go without. A £20 donation will pay for one of these boxes.
Listen to the latest episode of the Community Bridges podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3ysvws1OADgJzuSJ6IF5M1?si=s5Iry36_QlWU9wU9CWKCfQ