A charity kitchen set up by a mum-of-five in Bethnal Green to help “hard to reach” Somali families has been given special foods by staff from a global technology company.
Women’s Inclusive Team founder Safia Jama opened the Hooyo East kitchen at the Mayfield day care centre near York Hall to send out halal foods to families who were not using foodbanks because of worries about non-halal meats.
“They were unsure about the catering,” Safia told the East London Advertiser. “These families are hard to reach because they think any service that isn’t run by their own community isn’t for them. It’s all done by word of mouth.”
She recruited volunteers to run the kitchen at the centre in Cambridge Heath Road and had up to 500 helpers at one point.
“Many returned to their own employers and have spread the word about us,” Safia added.
That led to members of the Black Network at Amazon’s distribution centre at Tilbury, in Essex, getting together to donate halal foods to the kitchen.
Safia explained: “The families never used foodbanks because of the dietary rules, but we only take halal or fish. Amazon has given us mainly dried foods and cereals as well as toiletries.”
The company also donated a sugar-testing kit to help diabetics.
The testing kit has helped Safia make sure the produce her volunteers send out is safe for diabetics.
Safia received the Queen’s Award for community cohesion in June for her Women’s Inclusive Team that she founded to reach those in isolation during the pandemic.
The 43-year-old, who lives in Bromley-by-Bow, has taken on the roles of independent police advisor, director on the board of Tower Hamlets Homes, commissioner on Tower Hamlets Council’s Race Equality Commission and even finds time to run mental health courses at Mile End Hospital.