Since receiving our official accreditation by the Good Business Charter earlier this year, we’ve been making a concentrated effort to step-up our cadence of CSR activities.
After all, accreditation is worth nothing unless we put those promises into action.
Across the country, it seems one of the most pressing community-issues is the cost of living crisis. And as we head into both colder weather and the Christmas period, this issue becomes all the more concerning.
With temperatures plummeting and the cost of basic essentials rising, food banks across London are seeing higher and higher demand for their services.
With that in mind, we decided to dedicate our CSR activity this month to helping out at another foodbank. Doing our little bit to support the great work they do, when people need it most.
The Whitechapel Mission 🎯
Back in November, we spent an afternoon helping out at the Kensington & Chelsea Foodbank at the Notting Hill Methodist Church. This month, we decided to visit the Whitechapel Mission to donate clothes and food.
As a centre dedicated to helping people experiencing homelessness in London, this felt like a great cause to support for December.
I did a little research before choosing the Mission, and was amazed to see it has been running since 1876. For context, Italy has only existed as a unified country since 1861.
That’s nearly 150 years of serving homeless people across the city!
The Mission is open 7 days a week 365 days of the year, and is entirely funded without government grants. Beyond support for food and clothing, the centre offers advice services to people experiencing homelessness, as well as anyone concerned they may become homeless.
The details of the Mission’s work on their website were quite remarkable. That became even more evident when we visited.
Armed with instructions of which clothes and food items the centre required, four members of the GoSquared team gathered on an icy-cold Wednesday to head over to Whitechapel and deliver donations.
With clothes we’d brought from home, our second task before visiting the mission was to head to Sainsburys and stock up.
Each team-member was given a list of items to fetch across the sprawling supermarket, and came back loaded with cans, tins, and a lot of oats.
JT and I were assigned all things canned; baked beans, tomato soups, hot chocolate powder etc ✅
Steve and James were sent out to fetch Nutella, jams, biscuits, and sugar ✅
And Russell was assigned a toat-ally solo porridge-mission…
Lots of items and sore-arms! 💪
Luckily, the centre was only across the road, otherwise our arms might not have made it… Who would have thought that so many stacks of cans could be so heavy 😅
Entering the Mission 👣
We hauled the items over to the mission, and were greeted by the mission’s Director, Tony, who led us into the kitchen.
As we unpacked our items, Tony gave us a fascinating overview of how the centre has adapted to meet demand. Both the current cost of living crisis, and over the Covid period.
The Whitechapel Mission was one of the only homeless centres to remain open during Covid, when many others had to shut their doors. Unfortunately, some of these centres have not been able to open since.
That, coupled with the rising cost of living, has meant the centre has seen a surge in demand for its services.
“Before Covid we might think 150 users was a busy-day. Today we regularly see 350 visitors per day.”
Tony highlighted that requests for their advice centre is no longer limited to people actively sleeping rough, but also people concerned they may fall into homelessness.
The centre sprawls over three floors and a giant basement for stocking clothes; “Bigger than most department stores!”, in Tony’s words.
Indeed, to meet a demand of 350 people per day, a Primark-sized floor is definitely needed. Not to mention massive kitchen facilities to cook breakfast everyday, every morning of the year.
I was admittedly quite taken-aback to learn about the scale of support the centre offers. For anyone fortunate enough to not be experiencing or actively concerned by homelessness, this ‘world in the background’ normally goes completely unnoticed.
It was sobering to learn how many people are in need of the service. But it was also uplifting to know that there’s an army of volunteers and staff at the centre, all banding together day-in day-out to rise up and meet this need.
Doing our little bit to help out on this one afternoon, felt very much like the least we could do.
The Changing Scene of Volunteering 👥
Fortunately, helping out at causes like the Whitechapel Mission is becoming increasingly accessible. Both in our work-life and personal-life. These days we have apps like OnHand for arranging CSR activities (like this one!) or Nudj for actions on living more sustainably.
(And of course I’d have to mention our very own EcoSend, the first climate-conscious email marketing platform.)
‘Apps for good’ mean taking action to help out at a local, environment or community level is no longer relegated to the tiny percentage of the population who make it their duty to volunteer regularly.
After all, with the increasing pressure on these critical services, we can no longer rely on the goodwill of a view to keep the whole thing from falling down.
Which isn’t an attempt to shame anyone into ‘doing good’.
After all, selfish as it may sound, helping out at the Whitechapel Mission that day felt great!
The team came away from it surging with serotonin. We also coupled the activity with our Christmas party in the evening, to really make a full day of it for the whole team.
Doing good is not just sorely needed, it feels fantastic! The challenge is definitely sobering. But the delight of showing up and helping out, as well as the knowledge that there are many people out there getting stuck in to help too, gives me a lot of hope for the future and 2023.
Thanks for reading!