Fulham Charity Warns of Growing Impact of Cost-of-living Crisis

Has been topping up Oyster cards to enable people to get to food banks

A Sean Mendez of Solidarity Sports. Picture: YouTube

A charity has been topping up Oyster Cards for local as they can’t even afford to travel to a food bank. A London mum has also been left with just £7 to live off a week as food prices and energy bills soar, a Fulham charity has warned.

Sean Mendez, the founder of charity Solidarity Sports, has described some of the heart-breaking stories he has heard as the cost-of-living crisis continues to get worse.

Sean Mendez told the Local Democracy Reporting Service about one disabled Londoner’s difficult choices. He said, “One of our members, she is disabled. She has got an electric wheelchair. She is got to think ‘do I go to the shops today or do I go pick up my children from school’ because electricity is so expensive.

“Children were coming into the park limping. The reason why was because they were wearing shoes too small for them. Their parents could not buy them new ones. It’s things like that. They are not able to buy school uniforms or clothes.

“Add that to existing challenges like depression, anxiety and mental health issues. Some people are self-harming or experiencing bereavement from Covid. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say in 15 years this is the worst we have seen things.”

Londoners are also choosing to boil their food rather than fry it as they do not need to buy oil and it can help lower their bills. Others are switching off their freezers, cancelling their Wi-Fi connections and skipping meals to try and save money.

The charity, which supports disadvantaged children by promoting good health and wellbeing and works in partnership with Dads House Food Bank, has seen the number of children accessing its services shoot up.

The charity supported 123 children this summer, compared to 85 in 2021 and they have been able to help children have as normal an education as possible.

Sean said, “For one boy, his mum couldn’t afford the after-school swimming club he wanted to go to because she’s got no recourse to public funds or local benefits and only has £7 a week to live on.

“He’s so happy to be able join in with his friends. There’ll be so many others in a similar situation that we’re almost putting a plaster on a wound, but we are making a difference.”

More children have been turning up at their centre to use the internet as their parents cannot pay for Wi-Fi. Sean added: “We have got children who are having to do their homework on their parents’ phones because they cannot afford a laptop.”

The charity has received £20,000 from Hammersmith and Fulham Council and it will share the money with Dads House Food Bank. Sean has asked the Londoners they help how they would like to see this money spent and so far many people have been asking for food vouchers.

The funds will also be used to replace broken washing machines, pay for school uniforms and buy laptops. Hammersmith & Fulham Council has given £240,000 in grants to 36 local organisations.

Solidarity Sports recently opened their first permanent office in the Hammersmith and Fulham borough on the site of the old Seven Stars pub, North End Road. The Earls Court Development Company has provided the location rent-free for five years.

Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter

October 3, 2022