Leeds volunteers asked struggling families what items they consider a luxury - and were shocked by the answers
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Grace And Care, which is based in Alwoodley, has been supporting households that are struggling amid the cost of living crisis. As part those efforts, they decided to buy some items that many people can no longer afford or would consider to be a luxury.
After consulting local people, the list of items drawn up included many that others may take for granted as everyday items in a weekly shop. The ‘luxuries’ nominated by local families including washing powder, shampoo, tea, sugar, baby wipes, hand wash, biscuits, fruit squash and toilet roll.
Debbani Ghosh, who founded the organisation, said: “When the list that people came up with came back to us, it was quite shocking. It’s sad that things are like this now for lots of people.” Those using its services these days include professionals such as teachers and care workers.
It all began more than two years ago when Debbani started running a community kitchen out of her home. Now based in the kitchen of Primley Wood Primary School, the organisation has grown to include a whole team of volunteers. Together, they provide 85 hot vegetarian meals every two weeks – on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.
“We were so inspired by the outpouring of community spirit during the pandemic that we wanted to do something that made a difference to peoples lives,” Debbani said. “We have seen a real increase in people needing and wanting to come. We don’t means test anyone, it’s open to people from all backgrounds. We’ve seen a real shift in the people coming, it’s hard for people to ask for help.”
Seeing the struggles that many of their regular visitors were facing, the volunteers teamed up with other local charities and organisations to put together a series of care packages for distribution. Debbani said: “We started talking to our families and realised that people were really finding it tough to afford what we would consider to be basic items, things like oil, deodorant and toilet roll. We had some funding available to us and so decided to use it to buy care packages for people. It seemed like a no-brainer, so we just did it.
"We bought things that I would buy for myself, all branded and good quality products. It’s nice for people to have a few lovely things when times are tough.”
The care packages have made a huge difference, with one recipient telling the organisations involved: “I can’t believe how amazing these bags are, it’s like Christmas! It’s so nice to have quality things, I would never have bought branded products for myself. It’s fantastic and a great help, thank you so much.”
Visit the Grace And Care Facebook page to find out more about the organisation’s work, how to get involved in volunteering and how to make fresh food donations.