WDCFplus was established in 2011 with the dual missions of alleviating food poverty, and helping to build a caring community in the Whitefoot and Downham area.
1) Food provision
2) Promoting healthy living
3) Positive partnerships
4) Building communities.
Who We Help
Wdcfplus is currently supporting approximately 140 families per week. Most are on a food and support programme lasting 6 weeks to 6 months, Typically 4 new 'visitors' also turn up to the project a week, having been referred to wdcfplus by its various community partners. They too are approved for a programme depending on need, which is reviewed once the period of their individual programmes expires.
Since we began operations in November 2011 we have supported over 2,000 families, and not only in terms of a response to food poverty.
In some cases wdcfplus has helped build confidence for some to enter employment and training (or even become volunteers for the project), or it has been a lifeline for others where their benefits have been frozen or stopped. Some visitors need ongoing support due to severe debt or being a low income earner. From May 2016 until the start of the pandemic, when it became difficult to keep full records, wdcfplus saw 85% of our visitors attend the project because of low income, 65% because of lack of money and 58% because they were currently unemployed. (43% of those on benefits were claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is for people who have an illness, health condition or disability that makes it difficult or impossible to work.) The main age groups were 46-55yrs at 29% and 36-45yrs at 24%. Overall, the highest ethnicity of visitors that come to wdcfplus is White British at 57%.
With the exception of one paid member of staff, a part-time administrator, wdcfplus is run entirely by volunteers. They have been drawn from all sections of the community, be it varied academic and non-academic backgrounds, employed and unemployed status’, teenagers, retired citizens, or people with disabilities. Overall, wdcfplus’ volunteers relish the ability to care for and support their community.
Since its creation, wdcfplus has also linked up with over fifteen local partners that provide various services to our visitors and volunteers, ranging from debt advice to nutrition, social housing and parental support. We are grateful to them, and it is their services that provide the "Plus" in our name.
Over the years partner organisations have included:
(AFRIL) Action for Refugees in Lewisham
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) helps people with legal matters and also gives people that cannot easily access their branch offices the chance to get the advice they need.
Lewisham Council by way of provision of local Councillor Surgeries at the project;
Lewisham Community Connections, which is a sign-posting service for people in the borough;
Lewisham Community Drugs and Alcohol Outreach Service;
Lewisham Warm Homes Healthy People Scheme which helps vulnerable people stay warm especially during the colder months;
Lewisham Youth Offending Service – helping with set up
Parent Support Group (PSG) is a parent and child counselling service. Their key worker, Anne Williams, also offers the project support with their referral / approval programmes and helps lead our Operations Team.
Phoenix Community Housing provides the project with professionals that offer advice on housing issues and benefits. They also refer people to training courses in order to enhance their chances of finding a job.
Additionally, Church Leaders from seven local churches take it in turn each Thursday evening to offer spiritual guidance where needed.