THE Christian charity His Church, which seeks ethically and sustainably to redistribute residual stock through a support network of more than 2000 charities, has been working round the clock to deliver supplies to the most vulnerable communities in the country.
It has commenced an operation, His Great British Foodlift, with the slogan “In It Together”, which draws its inspiration from the Berlin airlift organised by the Western Allies to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin in 1948-49 during the Cold War blockade. The first 101 mixed pallets went to Birkenhead last Friday, and the charity hopes in the next four weeks to deliver 1200 consignments. It expects to support about 15,000 front-line charities that are responding to the pandemic in the UK.
Partners of His Church include most of the main UK manufacturers and distributors: the closing of restaurants and other food outlets as part of the lockdown brought in immediate lorry-loads of foods from their supply chains. Food security has become a worrying problem; many foodbanks have had to close, and communities are desperate for help. The charity took 500 calls in a single day from organisations all over the country in urgent need of food and supplies.
His Church is operating out of a 50,000-square-foot aircraft hangar in rural Lincolnshire, which is equipped with fridges, freezers, and shelving. In normal times, it stewards all the surplus stock that it is offered.
“We always say yes, whatever it is, because we don’t know when toilet roll will suddenly become invaluable, or paracetamol will become a premium,” the senior co-ordinator, Richard Humphrey, said. “We say yes by faith and we store them; we do some distributions on a regular basis, but we also store for times like these. Our faith tells us we have been equipped by God to do it.”
His Church was the first to respond to the Yorkshire floods in 2007, and to the Ebola-virus crisis in Liberia in 2014, but this, he said, was the biggest challenge yet. The 25-strong team self-isolated together at the beginning of the outbreak, to ensure that no one fell ill, and they continue to live in lockdown at the warehouse. “It’s far too big a risk for us to be anywhere but here.”
At a time when many people were unable to work, and were having financial problems, besides being scared for their health, Mr Humphrey said that the charity wanted to demonstrate how businesses could work together for the greater good of those unable to buy fundamental items. Leeds United and Hull City football clubs are among many longstanding partners linked with His Church.
Mr Humphrey described the commitment as enormous. “The Great British Foodlift is targeting the most deprived areas in the UK first, prioritising elderly people who are vulnerable due to self-isolation, as well as children at risk of going hungry due to not being able to access free school meals,” he said.
“It’s going make a massive difference particularly to isolated and vulnerable people struggling for these vital and essential resources — also for families, those schoolchildren who, sadly, because of school closures, aren’t getting free school meals and are in danger of going hungry. Together, we can beat this and make a difference.”
The charity described the operation as “demonstrating the faithfulness, provision and foresight of the living God in the earth”. It has launched a support campaign on Virgin Money Giving to help support the logistics operation needed to deliver this emergency provision.