The Newsletters from Mohammed S Mamdani of Sufra NW London, who run a foodbank, edible garden, cooking classes and a pop-up restaurant are always interesting. They combine reflections on current issues with practical organising. This is the latest Newsletter:
Let's take a stand against unscrupulous businesses
If there is anything that bothers me most, it’s cheating people. Especially those who have no option or choice but to comply. I’ll cut to the chase. What I mean is, I can’t stand it when people get screwed over by those who can afford that little bit more.
Farida is a single mother who attends the Community Kitchen on a weekly basis, with her 9-year-old son. She was employed by a hairdresser on minimum wage, £7.20 per hour for 16 hours per week. Well, that’s what her contract says. At the end of month, after completing her due hours, her employer transferred £300 into her bank account and gave her a pay-slip for £518.40. In effect, she was paid just £4.17 per hour, well below the minimum wage. Illegal, unethical and frankly, outrageous.
Her story is by no means unusual. I’ve even heard stories of people working for weeks (regrettably without contracts) and being paid nothing at all. After 3 years of working at the food bank, you begin to recognise these nasty trends.
The logical assumption is that this is easily solvable. Report to HMRC. Call ACAS. I tried everything. It’s just not worth their while to investigate one complainant at some small business down some alleyway in Harlesden (no offence). No one gives a damn about the little people. Even less, if they don’t know how the system works, speak with an accent or are simply desperate.
So, who are these deceitful employers? Yes, there are the likes of Sports Direct, who after much uncomfortable media attention decided to atone publicly for their sins, but I’m thinking of those small businesses close to home. The barber down the road. The takeaway where you stop off on your way home from work and the dodgy electrician who always seems to have a lackey to do the dirty work.
I’m not here to hound or stereotype small businesses. The climate is tough and the margins are narrow. But there are plenty that manage to treat their staff equitably. Let’s make a stand against unscrupulous businesses that screw over their staff.
Recruiting: Volunteer Coordinator
Sufra NW London in partnership with Brent Care is recruiting a Volunteer Coordinator to support a new NHS pilot, which aims to reduce non-essential GP and A&E visits. Working as part of a team of 5 Care Navigators, the Volunteer Coordinator will recruit and supervise volunteers to support patients navigate various social care facilities to enable them to become independent and less reliant on front-line NHS services.
A full job-description and application form can be found here. There is no deadline for applications, as we are interviewing on a rolling basis. We recommend early application to avoid disappointment.
If you want to sign up for your first good deed of the week, put your name down to volunteer at one of our upcoming supermarket collections.
This weekend we’re at Asda Wembley Park (5/6 November), and a fortnight later, at Waitrose Brent Cross (19/20 November). We just need you for a couple of hours.
To sign up for Asda Wembley Park, click here.
To sign up for Waitrose Brent Cross, click here.
Help us stock up for the Christmas rush.
Emergency Welfare Fund
Next week, the government introduces the reduced benefit cap, which will leave an estimated 498 food bank users living on just £35/week. You can find out more, in my last newsletter here.
To cope with the chaos, which will soon unravel, Sufra NW London has launched a £5,000 emergency welfare fund to provide short-term financial support to families in crisis for gas/electricity, travel and other household costs.
To make your donation, click here.
Sami’s Chicken Club
The race is on to gather enough votes to help Sami, our 16-year old Assistant Gardener, win an Aviva Community Award of £1,000 to build an aviary and chicken coop on St. Raphael’s Edible Garden. Please support him and vote here.
SAVE THE DATE: Pop-Up Restaurant
Our next pop-up restaurant will be on Saturday 17 December, prepared entirely by graduates of our flag-ship programme, Food Academy Plus. Save the date for this very special Christmas dining experience.
Christmas Dinner @ Sufra NW London
No one should be lonely on Christmas Day.
Sufra NW London will be open on Christmas Day for a very special dinner for those who are living alone or cannot afford a traditional dinner. There will also be a minibus collection for those who are reliant on public transport.
The cost of the Christmas Dinner is £360 – so if you know a company or a generous individual who would like to sponsor the dinner, please get in touch.