It’s our first update of 2023 and it’s mostly bad news out there so let’s start with something positive! We’re going to start hosting a regular coffee morning on the first Saturday of the month, in Brixton. We hope this will be a good way for more people to chat and get involved. Come find us from 11am to 1pm on Saturday 4 February at Advocacy Academy, 5-7 Vining Street, Brixton SW9 8QA. It’s a warm space with a big kitchen so we can have hot drinks and snacks and figure out what we can do together. We’ll also bring cash for the bus fare for anyone who needs it.
This month we’ve had a huge increase in people reaching out to LMA for support. Bills are on the rise for everyone but if you can spare anything at all for the Solidarity Fund, it would literally mean more people in the borough being able to afford food, bus fares and a top up of their electricity meter. It’s not OK for anyone to live without these basics, and while we don’t have a government that cares, it’s vital that the community do.
This month, the Solidarity Fund will be opening on Saturday 28 January, at midday. Everyone should apply using the same form: we know this system isn’t perfect and hope more people will get involved in talking about how to improve it. Also, please spread the word! Tell family, tell friends, get on facebook or other social media: it all helps build up the fund.
Thanks to the excellent Lambeth Larder newsletter, this month we’ve learned that Lambeth Council have made some changes to the Household Support Scheme. It’s open to all Lambeth residents with a household income of less than £30,000 per year, you no longer need to be on benefits to apply, and if you’ve applied within the past 6 months but need further support for food and utility bills, you can apply again.
Inspired by Lambeth Larder, we’ve made a weekly guide to free and low-cost food in Lambeth.
Lambeth Libraries are also starting to hand out free energy saving kits for the home, with draught excluders, LED light bulbs and radiator reflector panels. All Lambeth households are eligible: you’ll need to give your name and address which will be shared with the Climate Change action team in the council for monitoring for the project. These things can save up to £240 a year – as well as acting against climate change. Check whether you need screw and/or bayonet bulbs before you go and bring a bag. Here’s a list of collection points.
Lambeth is full of people working for change. Groups who have been helping us feel positive this month include:
Save Nour resisting gentrification in Brixton
Lambeth Solidarity joining up with Southwark Solidarity to plan a benefit night for union members on strike – join them on 27 January
The ongoing mutual aid work of Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth
And the Restart Project, where people can go to repair broken things instead of throwing them away.
Solidarity beyond Lambeth
This is a sad story to end on. In 2022 we made friends with a family living in temporary accommodation in Lambeth, who this month have been forced to move outside London, to a place where buses are even more expensive, ESOL classes aren’t provided, and they have even less access to food. An investigation into the agency responsible for their care exposes how badly people are being treated – and how much government money is being pocketed by managers who don’t care at all. Wanting to support the family, LMA passed on information about the nearest Trussell Trust food bank (who also refused to help), the nearest warm space, and the local Citz Advice, but we haven’t found anything like the Lambeth Larder Directory, where we get so much information about food and support.
It’s yet another reminder of how important mutual aid groups are, as alternative networks of support. So please, get involved!
Hope to see you on Saturday 4 February. With love and solidarity, LMA xoxo