Londoner runs foodbank from home during lockdown

The East Londoner has been helping to feed key workers and those less fortunate throughout the coronavirus pandemic by running a foodbank from home.

Frank Charles, from Wanstead, dedicates his life to helping people.

The 56-year-old runs a charity that helps to provide ill children with presents at Christmas, and throughout the year organises Feed the Streetz, a community project providing breakfast to rough sleepers.

Just before the pandemic hit, Feed The Streetz was feeding rough sleepers every day in Stratford and Ilford providing necessities such as breakfast bags, hot drinks, savoury treats, warm clothes, footwear and toiletries.

As a former rough sleeper, the project, created three years ago, is something Frank is “very passionate” about.

When lockdown was implemented, Frank did not want those who relied on food from Feed the Streetz to go without, so he decided to make sure those who still needed help received it by transforming his home into a foodbank with all sorts of necessities available for those who needed them.

Frank (pictured) has been ensuring that homeless people in need of food have still been able to receive it throughout the pandemic.

After patrolling Stratford once measures were announced to temporarily rehouse homeless people, Frank said he got emotional.

He told Oh My Goodness: “To my total amazement not one rough sleeper could be seen anywhere and I looked around outside of the shopping centre as well. I had tears welling up in my eyes knowing that all the rough sleepers that I have been feeding over the years had finally found somewhere to stay even if it is only during the coronavirus situation.

“I want to do something to help those in need anyway I can. This food bank means the world to me and I want it to be a success [by] helping anyone in need across East London when I’m contacted to help.”

Along with helping to provide food for homeless, Frank has been making deliveries to Whipps Cross Hospital, in Leytonstone, since the first week of the pandemic.

Frank (left) with hospital staff at Whipps Cross hospital, where he has has been delivering food to day and night workers throughout the coronavirus pandemic. (Frank Charles)

Frank said he wanted to show his “support and unity” with the workers at the hospital who, in 2018, helped him recover from stage 4 blood cancer.

During the first two weeks of the pandemic, Frank delivered food for the hospital’s day and night staff seven days a week, and despite the demands of it, he has managed to make deliveries two days a week since.

Each delivery has contained food, toiletries, face shields, individual presents, drink, cakes, hand cream, lotion, and fruit.  

“It was very interesting to see how the hospital changed in priorities week after week and how work took its toll on some staff after very long shifts,” he said. 

Frank established his charity; Frank Charles Gift A Gift Appeal, which helps the Feed the Streetz project, in 2004.

He set the charity up after the tragic loss of his son Ashley, at 23 months old, from Hirschsprung’s Disease. Frank was born with that same disease and spent many years of his childhood in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

In memory of Ashley, Frank decided to try and brighten the lives of children who were too ill to go home over the festive period and is now developing the charity into an all year project giving to those in need and to grant wishes to children and adults with life threatening illnesses.

The Londoner credits Haslers Foundation, in Loughton, as having been very supportive over the years towards his charity and supporting him throughout the time when he had cancer.

He is also thankful for his wife and many organisations including the Wanstead community, local Tesco’s and Morrisons, Street Angels and Carpenters and Dockland Centre for helping him have a platform that can help others.

Frank said the charity mainly survives on donations, with food and clothes particularly important.

He added: “I will continue to serve the community where needed or if my health takes a turn for the worst. But I promise you this, I’m living the dream doing what I like doing best and that’s helping [and] supporting people in need.

“People, community groups and charities have worked closely with each other during this situation and long may this collaboration continue even when things are back to normal.” 

If you would like to learn more about the amazing work Frank does, you can visit the Frank Charles Give A Gift Appeal website.

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