Council supports the gift of giving this Christmas

Mayor and Bow Food Bank with donations

Mayor with food bank donations

Today the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, handed over more than 1,000 donations of festive food and gifts to help people living in poverty this Christmas.

Local partners will now distribute the gifts to those in need across the borough, just in time for Christmas. They will help people who are homeless and those with complex needs, including victims of abuse or modern slavery.

All gifts were donated by staff following a three week present appeal which ran across council offices. The scheme is the biggest the council has ever taken part in.

Partners distributing the Christmas gifts include Bow food bank, Look Ahead and Hestia refuges, Beyond the Street’s Programme and First Love Foundation.

The First Love Foundation will be hosting two special events in the borough where children and adults will receive their Christmas presents and hampers, and enjoy a three course Christmas dinner. The council’s social work teams have also been distributing toys to children in the borough.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Christmas can be particularly difficult for those in our community who are more vulnerable. Food poverty and the rise of people using food banks is sadly a very real issue across London but we’re working hard to support our residents. I want to thank all our staff and volunteers who made this donation drive a success. We hope these gifts will help more people in Tower Hamlets to have a happy Christmas.”

Food donated by council staff included chocolates, mince pies and dried goods while gift donations included toiletry sets, children’s toys and books for all ages. The Local Buyers Club has also gifted 500 toy donations to the scheme while toiletries company Heathcote & Ivory have donated gift sets and hand creams.

The donation drive came following the announcement in October that Tower Hamlets Council has been ranked join third in London for continuing to tackle food poverty for vulnerable residents in the borough.

It is the second year running that the council has been ranked in the top three London boroughs on initiatives such as the promotion of breastfeeding and the implementation of a food poverty action plan.

Councillor Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Planning, Air Quality and Tackling Poverty, said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time filled with joy and celebration, but we know some families will struggle to keep food on the table over the holidays. While we continue to make the case for a fair social security system and invest in our welfare advice services, we want to make sure that no-one goes hungry and everyone has something to unwrap on Christmas Day - thank you to everyone who has contributed.”

The council has also recently contributed towards the first community fridge in the borough through the Tackling Poverty Innovation Fund, which will be located in the Bromley by Bow Centre. The fridge, which will be launching in the next few months, will help to reduce food waste and enable people facing food poverty to have easy access to fresh, nutritious food.

To find your nearest foodbank and to donate, visit

Posted on Friday 20th December 2019