Our first case study focuses on Sufra NW London, a project based in Brent which focuses its services around a food bank. The charity’s current Director, Mohammed Sadiq Mamdani provides more information about how its background and how it works. 

1.       What is your project about? What are its aims?

Sufra NW London aims to confront the causes and symptoms of poverty in the London Borough of Brent, providing for both the immediate needs of destitute local people as well as their long-term skills development, employability and health and well-being.

Our services revolve around the food bank, which last year provided emergency food aid, toiletries and clothing to 3,858 people. The food bank provides a gateway to a wide-range of programmes that respond to the underlying causes of food poverty. These include:

  • a food academy which trains young people in cookery skills and healthy eating
  • a subsidised vegetable box scheme that increases the affordability of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • welfare surgeries offering one-to- one advice and advocacy on benefits, housing etc
  • a community kitchen for asylum seekers, the homeless and socially excluded
  • a food growing project that provides training in horticulture and employment

Through holistic intervention, and access to wide-ranging opportunities for personal development, the charity aims to lead vulnerable people on a personally tailored journey from crisis to social and financial inclusion and ultimately, active participation in the community and economic stability. Although the charity provides a borough-wide service, since we are based on St. Raphael’s Estate, the most deprived neighbourhood in Brent, some of our services are specifically targeted towards the regeneration of the local community.

2.       When and how did your project start?

The charity was set up in April 2013 by a partnership of 4 Muslim charities: Al-Mizan Charitable Trust, Beta Charitable Trust, BW Foundation and the Islamic Unity Society. The partnership pledged seed funding of £30,000 each year for 3 years to support the core costs of Sufra NW London and develop a sustainable infrastructure.

3.       What are your biggest achievements to date?

Over the last 3 years, the charity has provided emergency food aid to over 10,000 people, of which more than 500 people have received medium to long-term welfare support.

4.       Do you currently have any voluntary opportunities in your organisation? How can people get involved?

We have a particular need for skilled volunteers, but everyone is welcome to be involved. All our volunteer opportunities are advertised on our website.

5.       Based on your experience, what advice would you give to others who are involved in/starting social projects?

Prior to setting up any social action project, it’s important to be clear about your aims and objectives and what you are trying to achieve. With limited resources, it’s important that you don’t replicate existing models and that your intervention makes a real or lasting difference to the community. If there are other people in your community doing similar things, collaborate and work together. If you still decide to go ahead and create your own enterprise, remember that there are no easy ways to do good and transform lives.

For more information about Sufra NW London, you can visit their project listing here, or visit their website: www.sufra-nwlondon.org.uk.