Updated: Nov 16, 2020


A number of businesses have teamed-up with Brent Mutual Aid groups to help with food donations and deliveries but a very special mention has to go to Cuore, the Italian deli on Sidmouth Rd in Brondesbury.

Cuore have always helped local residents in need of support and when lockdown began they extended their support to NHS and front-line workers.

Owner, Rudy, took an even bigger step however in July when he approached Brondesbury and Kensal Green Mutual Aid to donate thousands of pounds worth of stock. This was shared between “Gift Your Neighbour” - a Salusbury World-led non-referral food initiative across Brondesbury, Queens Park and Kensal Green, as well as Willesden Mutual Aid Foodbank.

In addition, every Thursday Rudy offers a free coffee of choice to anyone leaving food donations for “Gift Your Neighbour” and pledges to match any donations bought from Cuore.

Rudy has not wanted to create publicity for the donations, but feels very strongly that “no-one in a community such as ours should be struggling to feed themselves or their families”.

Rudy’s huge generosity has made it possible for the “Gift Your Neighbour” initiative to continue.

Aditi Hanumantha, 18 year old volunteer for “Gift Your Neighbour” (pictured here with her sister Jyothi at Cuore) said: “We’ve been helping to feed 200 people twice a week and we had been worried about whether we could keep the initiative going. Thanks to Cuore we’ve had an amazing supply of high-quality food to go with meals made the same day by Daksha and her Community Response Kitchen”.

“Gift Your Neighbour” will continue to work with Granville Community Kitchen, St Laurence’s Larder and other local food initiatives supported by Brent Mutual Aid.

Written by Kieumy


An example of a business that supports volunteering, improving mental health for many.

Andy Vassilev spoke to Jason Hale about his experience

I worked in social and welfare care support charities for LGBT and HIV for fifteen years. Austericuts led me to pursue a new direction. I volunteered then was employed by a Dyslexia charity, a condition I have as an office manager. This gave me the skills, combined with my previous role to take my current position as Front of House at Informa plc (via Mitie, my employer).

I have volunteered frequently in the past, usually between contracts. Apart from the reward of helping others, volunteering helps with gaining skills, realising and sharing knowledge, and in learning in general, in many ways. In addition to this, and in times like these, it avoided the feeling of isolation and the mental health issues it can bring.

How important is the employer’s support in volunteering?

Both my employer Mitie and the contractor I work with at Informa plc, offer volunteer days off as an exchange. Informa offers four days off that can be split into half days. They were aware of the need for volunteers at Mutual Aid and added it to their list of approved organisations to volunteer.

At Informa plc they offer fundraising for charities. They offered £500 and £750 grants for a colleague who regularly volunteers with a charity. I hope to be successful in applying for this grant for Brent Mutual Aid. My organisation has gone over and above its volunteer commitment and in particular, Mutual Aid.

Understandably, many companies are not yet ready and able to bring back furlough the entire staff from each of the departments due to new COVID rules. This involves tough decisions, they must pick who will not return to work. In my case, it was quite easy for them. They were pleased to keep me on furlough and I am pleased to continue contributing and helping the community. At a time when many people are having to cut down or withdraw from commitments, this has been extremely useful.

How to go about volunteering?

Before I applied for volunteering, I looked at matching my skills to what was available and needed. With Mutual Aid, and my ward, I helped with distributing leaflets at local establishments such as shops, libraries and post offices, where the vulnerable are most likely to frequent and be known.

Many of our target vulnerable residents are based in council housing blocks. We were not able to reach out to these individuals as gaining access to locked blocks was difficult. I researched the direct email address for Brent council’s CEO, requesting her assistance. Within a few minutes I received a positive response stating that she would help and link me up with the caretakers for the relevant blocks.

The outcome was more referrals to Mutual Aid and some very grateful residents. I am now working with other wards to establish the same in their own area. Some wards had plenty of volunteers whilst others had none. I have asked leads to contact other wards to see if they require assistance. This will enable a better service offered to their residents.

Upon my return to work I will continue to volunteer for Mutual Aid and look forward to being part of the team that remains onboard to establish the future of the excellent services provided by Mutual Aid.

Written by Andy Vassilev


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