Children With Voices & Community Food Hub - APPEAL

Children with Voices (charity number 1191018) has been a vital frontline service in Hackney for over a decade, working to improve the lives of young people, strengthen community and support those most in need. In April 2020, in response to the pandemic, we launched the Community Food Hub. Accessible, inclusive and non-judgemental food banks for anyone who needs them.  In one year, we fed over 45,000 people with an incredible team of 100+ volunteers and now, over 600 people come to our food hubs every week.

We are raising money to secure a permanent home in Hackney for a minimum of 2 year lease (rent is approx £25k - £35k per year + maintenance costs, bills and adapting the space to deliver our services). With our experience and deep roots in the community, this building will have Hackney and all its residents at its heart; a space to listen, act and achieve change together. 

Watch this short video to see 'A Day in the Life of our Community Food Hub' to learn more about what we do and why we are raising money for a  building. Your donation and support will help us get there.

"The community food hub has helped me not to go hungry with my weekly food supply during these uncertain times.  I have ongoing issues with my legs after coronavirus and I cannot walk long distances as before. The truth is I do not know what I would have done".  Ivy, Hackney Resident."

WHY DO WE NEED £100,000?

We have had multiple conversations with Hackney Council regarding their empty community buildings.
Following a 'Freedom of Information' request we learnt that the only community building available has recently been squatted in and requires extensive repairs before it can be re-opened. There are no other community buildings available for long term hire.

It is clear that raising money to rent our own space independent from the Council is the most efficient way of securing the building that is so desperately needed. We launched this fundraiser last year with a target of £10,000 and we were overwhelmed by support, raising £13,000 from kind individuals and businesses. This gave us the confidence to start looking for a building.

Our requirements for this building are;

- Large community space (to run our youth programme and our food hubs)
- Kitchen (so we can continue to provide healthy, home-made hot food to our community and hold cooking workshops.)
- Storage space including for fridge / freezers
- Office space
- Parking (to load and unload our van)
- Outdoor space (to grow our own food via an inter-generational community garden - we could also love to get some animals for our SEND children!)
- Space for our service users to queue up safely
- Toilets (one for staff and one for children)
- An extra space we can rent out to our community as an income stream.

Once we started looking, we realised the cost of a building far exceeded our expectations. Suitable buildings we have found include;

- Stable Block, Springfield House, Springfield Park, E5 9EF - £35,750 / year rent

- Unit adjacent to CLR James Library, Dalston Square, E8 3BQ - £25,000 / year rent

- Rasmgate Office, Dalston - £31,000 / year rent

- Units 1 - 4, Ability Plaza, Arbutus Street, Dalston, E8 4DT (enquired with estate agent)

Our target of £100,000 will provide us with two years worth of rent + additional funds to cover bills, furniture and fittings and ongoing maintenance cover. It will provide a sustainable future for our borough, our organisation and those we serve.


Children with Voices was founded in 2007 when our founder Michelle Dornelly’s son got caught up in gang postcode wars, fearful of crossing invisible boundaries in the borough. She instinctively understood that the best way communities could tackle this was together and so she created safe spaces, not just from criminal exploitation and gang violence but food poverty and obesity. With no space to work from, she invited families into her own home for food and conversation.

In the intervening 14 years, Children With Voices has grown into a vital lifeline for Hackney residents. We are proud to represent and serve our diverse borough. Michelle was born on the Kingsmead Estate and we have a team of dedicated volunteers including a core team who help run the charity. Skill-sets include career coaches, film producers, teachers, fundraisers, marketing experts, young creatives, translators and chefs, showcasing Hackney’s vibrancy and spirit.

In the past year, we have registered as a charity, obtained UK Government funding in recognition of the importance of our work during the  pandemic, established clear governance and staffing structure and launched new partnerships. We require a building to centralise and capitalise on this growth.


Since 2009 we have been running our free youth program Jumping Beans and Young Ambassadors. These sessions cover 17 areas of Hackney and specifically engage young people of colour, those from deprived backgrounds and S.E.N children.

Our Jumping Beans holiday camps allow 5 - 11 year olds the opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment through activities such as baking, arts and crafts and exercise. Our Young Ambassadors programme connects Hackney’s teenagers with local chefs to gain cooking qualifications, developing skills in healthy living, wellbeing and mentorship whilst providing emotional support.

Each session includes breakfast snacks, hot meals/packed lunches and a food package to take home to support families. During lockdown, we delivered these online with a focus on mental health.

"When I started Jumping Beans with my brother, I really enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot about different skills.
I was a very quiet person in class and use to get bullied but since I started Jumping Beans it’s boosted my confidence to manage the things around me. I would love to carry on." Ayesha, 11 years old.


In response to COVID-19 we launched our Community Food Hubs across Hackney; accessible, inclusive and non-judgemental food banks for those in need. These hubs now operate 5 days a week, 52 weeks of the year collecting surplus food from businesses and supermarkets and packaging this up for free collection. Ready meals, hot food, fresh fruit and vegetables, sweet treats and other essential items, we provide support to anyone who needs it, no questions asked.

In April 2020, over 70 volunteers were making 200 food deliveries a week and supporting hundreds more people in need. 12 months, and 10 hubs later we have fed over 45,000 people with 600+ people now coming to our hubs every week. During shielding a team over 50+ volunteers, working all hours of the day, seven days a week delivered over 60 food packages to the elderly, vulnerable and families in need.

We also delivered to 8 homeless hostels, 2 nursing homes alongside special deliveries to Homerton Hospital for NHS staff, City of Hackney Mental Health Department and our local Veterans Shelter.

But we are more than a food bank, we are a community hub.


We stay true to our roots as charity, believing the best way to lift communities up, is by working together.
Examples include;

--- Working with Turkish and Ethiopian residents to translate our flyers and partnered with Fikre Kitchen and The Gallery Cafe to cater for our Ethiopian and Caribbean service users.

--- Partnering with Helping Hands Hackney to deliver hot meals and essentials to the homeless and with the Hackney branch of Care4Calais to support local asylum seekers.

--- On Mother’s Day we partnered with A.G. Price Florists and worked with multiple local businesses to create and distribute 60 Christmas hampers for families, the elderly and young people. These included sensory toy boxes for S.E.N children. 

--- Arranging white goods, toys, furniture and laptops to be given to families in need… plus over 400 (!) Easter Eggs!

--- Partnering with Penguin Books and The British Library to launch our own Children's Book Week, providing 100 book bags to low income families.

--- Partnering with benefits, unemployment and housing experts to offer free one- to-one advice sessions and providing up-skilling opportunities to our service users and volunteers including free courses on mental health awareness, food safety and first aid.

--- Combatting food waste by distributing unwanted food from supermarkets and educating communities about ‘best before dates’.

This showcases the consistent, resourceful and inventive ways in which we support all members of our community equally. We listen, take action and deliver on our commitment to them, not just as a food bank but as a community hub. 

We have managed all of this - and more - with no regular public funding, and no permanent home. This has required an extraordinary amount of patience, determination, people power and spirit - but this is not sustainable.

"Volunteering for Children With Voices is so inspiring. I have delivered food for other Hackney charities but working for Michelle and her team was so much more rewarding. Five minutes volunteering and you feel more positive about the state of the world" Olivia, Delivery Volunteer

Thank you for reading this. If you have time, please consider watching this short film 'Tinned Pears' to understand more about the work we do, and the realities of living in food poverty in the UK.

Directed by Libby Burke Wilde / Produced by Siobhan Daly / Production Company - The Progress Film Company


Community Food Hub is managed by Children With Voices, registered charity number 1191018.

Thank you to our partners and supporters - Felix Project, M&S, Tesco, Coop, FareShare, Asda, Waitrose, Gallery Cafe, LloydsofLondon, Planzheroes, Wells Fargo, Nandos, Sanctuary Housing, Pootitinyerbag, Rainbow Bakery.

Huge thanks to Grey Hutton for the photography.
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