Help The Hungry campaign raises £1m for the vulnerable

‘£1m raised, £1m to go – let’s finish the job,’ says The Independent’s Evgeny Lebedev

Thursday 09 April 2020 12:50 BST
Evgeny Lebedev, proprietor of The Independent, makes deliveries for the Felix project
Evgeny Lebedev, proprietor of The Independent, makes deliveries for the Felix project

The Independent’s Help The Hungry appeal today reached its initial target of raising £1m for The Felix Project – to fund the supply of food to children, the poor, the NHS and vulnerable people in London.

We surged over the line with a £50,000 donation from Citibank and £25,000 from Lush cosmetics founders Mark and Mo Constantine, as well as a rise in reader donations to more than £50,000.

It has taken just 12 days since the launch of our appeal, in conjunction with our sister title the Evening Standard, to get to £1m, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of all of our readers, our donor companies, foundations, philanthropists and more than 650 members of the public.

Evgeny Lebedev, shareholder of The Independent, said: “Twelve days ago I wrote to ask for your help in the face of the greatest challenge of our collective lifetime – and you responded magnificently. The £1m you have donated will help us help The Felix Project feed NHS workers, care workers, the poor and the vulnerable. Thank you.

“But I have to report that I have been out delivering food with Felix today and they are seeing unprecedented demand from people who cannot afford or access food.

“I went to two homeless charities, The Marylebone Project and Rhythms of Life, where our deliveries are preventing deep distress. I accompanied one of 22 Felix vans that set off across the capital, filled to the brim, to ferry over 20 tons of nutritious food to three of the giant community hubs established in Barnet, Islington and Haringey, and to more than 75 charities and schools.

“That’s more than double the 10 tons a day Felix were supplying in normal times.”

Mr Lebedev added: “Within days, this picture is set to change dramatically yet again. Felix say they expect another 11 community hubs in another 11 boroughs to open their doors to hungry Londoners – and with it, Felix’s output will need to double again.

“That is why we at The Independent are committing our resources to raise another million pounds to prevent food insecurity to people already anxious about their health and that of loved ones. That is why we say: £1m raised, £1m to go. Let’s finish the job and keep vulnerable Londoners healthy and fed.”

Mark Curtin (left), CEO of Felix Project, and Andrew Faris, founder of Rhythms of Life, deliver food for The Felix Project

The deliveries are part of our food appeal’s support for the charities in the London Homeless Collective, the umbrella organisation of London homeless charities that The Independent is working with through our Homeless Fund. Felix is delivering to other homeless organisations, as well as The Marylebone Project, including Centrepoint.

Des Scott, CEO of the Church Army, which runs The Marylebone Project and provides 112 beds to homeless women under the Edgware flyover, said: “Being able to get fresh vegetables is one of the key things we can do to keep these women healthy.”

Andrew Faris, who founded Rhythms Of Life in 2008 after living rough on a bench at the back of The Savoy hotel when his estate management company went bankrupt, said the Felix delivery to his charity in King’s Cross would be used to feed rough sleepers.

“Every night we go out to Charing Cross with food parcels and serve 100 people as we always have done. The only difference is that now I stand with my megaphone and shout, ‘Guys, please, two metres apart, you’re still going to get served, two metres apart, please.’”

James Bardrick, head of Citi UK, said their donation to Help The Hungry comprised a combination of company money and an (as yet unknown) aggregation of employee donations which could conceivably exceed the £50,000 minimum pledged by the bank.

He added: “Our employees want to support those struggling. We supported The Felix Project when they started in 2016. Never has what they do been more important.”

Lush co-founder Mark Constantine said: “We are delighted to support this extraordinary appeal. In such chaotic times, it is a relief to help out and see food get to people who need it most.”

The Independent is encouraging readers to help groups that are trying to feed the hungry across the country – find out how you can help here. Follow this link to donate to our campaign in London, in partnership with the Evening Standard.

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