Covid UK: Food poverty fears as queues mount at London food bank


Hundreds of people formed the ‘largest queue’ ever seen by staff working at a food bank as Covid-19 continues to cause unprecedented levels of food poverty in the UK.

London’s Community Kitchen livestreamed people queuing 7ft apart outside the bank in Wembley, West London on Saturday at 11am.

The group’s head of outreach Afzal Parkar said a week’s worth of food was given to 520 people collecting for 2,000 residents that day.

London’s Community Kitchen livestreamed people queuing 7ft apart outside the bank in Wembley, West London on Saturday at 11am 

He said food poverty has ‘gone out of control’ during the third coronavirus lockdown, with similar queues popping up across the capital.

Video which has been viewed around 725,000 times shows people queuing for around half a mile at a social distance down Ealing Road to receive food from the Brent Indian Association building. 

‘This was definitely the largest queue we’ve encountered – I have not witnessed anything like this,’ Mr Parkar told the BBC.

‘Motorists on the road paused just to take in the visual impact of this humungous queue of people two-metres apart. It literally spiralled down the whole of Ealing Road.’

The recipients of the food had been referred by local organisations to the food bank, which has been running for seven years. 

The group's head of outreach Afzal Parkar said a week's worth of food was given to 520 people collecting for 2,000 residents that day

The group’s head of outreach Afzal Parkar said a week’s worth of food was given to 520 people collecting for 2,000 residents that day

Sky News breakfast presenter Kay Burley was seen volunteering at the Community Kitchen at the weekend, following her six-month suspension from the news channel

Sky News breakfast presenter Kay Burley was seen volunteering at the Community Kitchen at the weekend, following her six-month suspension from the news channel

‘They were already on low income and the pandemic has literally brought them to a standstill,’ Mr Parkar said. ‘They need food. Their children need food.

‘They line up even when its blistering cold. These people have been soaked and drenched in rain without umbrellas, and it does not deter them to get there early and queue for two to three hours.’

Sky News breakfast presenter Kay Burley was seen volunteering at the Community Kitchen at the weekend, following her six-month suspension from the news channel. 

The hard-nosed journalist fell from grace after flouting restrictions to celebrate her 60th birthday with colleagues including Sky Political Editor Beth Rigby.

Filmed for a video posted on Facebook by the food hub’s organisers, Miss Burley is seen giving out bags filled with essential items such as bread and eggs.

Miss Burley, who has worked for Sky News for 32 years, has been volunteering at the kitchen’s operations in Harrow and Wembley for the past seven or eight weeks.

The hard-nosed journalist fell from grace after flouting restrictions to celebrate her 60th birthday with colleagues including Sky Political Editor Beth Rigby

The hard-nosed journalist fell from grace after flouting restrictions to celebrate her 60th birthday with colleagues including Sky Political Editor Beth Rigby 

In the video, a narrator says ‘our lovely volunteer Kay’s here’ as the news presenter, dressed in a high-vis vest over her coat, hands out bags of food.

A spokesman for London’s Community Kitchen said: ‘Credit to her, Kay is a very, very strong, grounded person – she really is passionate about what she’s doing.

‘She does come two to three times a week and she spends the best part of a full day here.’

It comes as food poverty charity the Trussell Trust warned the Government’s decision not to extend a £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit would put millions at risk of hunger.

In Parliament on Wednesday responding to a question on the issue, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government would continue to put its ‘arms around’ the people of the UK during the pandemic. 

Hundreds braved torrential snow and freezing temperatures to queue for food at a Glasgow soup kitchen

Hundreds braved torrential snow and freezing temperatures to queue for food at a Glasgow soup kitchen

Earlier this week, shocking photos revealed how more than 200 people had to wait in line in the snow amid temperatures as low as -14C to be fed by a soup kitchen in Glasgow.

The pictures, taken as adverse weather from Storm Darcy hit the country, were shared widely on Facebook, with volunteers insisting ‘this has to end’.

However, charities are warning things will get even worse for those struggling to make ends meet when lockdown ends, with soup kitchens now facing unprecedented demand.

The number of people regularly using the service has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic – with Covid forcing families who had stable homes and businesses into poverty.

In response, locals have raised some £62,000 to help those most in need in just a matter of days. 

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