Members spotlight: PecanDate Posted: 17 July 2018
This week we are highlighting the work of our members, Pecan and spoke to Chris Price, Pecan’s CEO.
Tell us a little about you…
Pecan is a south London charity, working locally and regionally. We are committed to working with people at their point of need, whether it is a family in crisis, a women coming out of prison or domestic violence, someone in financial hardship, people in need of social action or seeking employment.
Our aim is to support people to have faith in their ability. We do this through what we call Kindness, Belief, Hope. Whatever the issue how people are treated and feel about themselves is important. We treat people honestly and with kindness, we are focused on enabling people to believe in themselves and our aim is that people take hope into their future path.
We are committed to seeing the individuals and communities we work with empowered to make their own choices and affect their situation and aim to achieve this through projects that promote community, employment and resettlement.
How are you helping to tackle child poverty in London?
We offer employment support and training through our family works programme. Alongside this we run the Southwark foodbank as well as providing children and their families opportunities for community engagement through projects such as our HOurBank project that gives people (and organisations or businesses) the chance to share skills and build community simply by helping one another. Pecan also runs Southwark Womans Hub, which is a safe female only space where women can meet with professionals and each other as well as taking part in courses such as Freedom Programme.
What concerns you currently about child poverty in London?
We run the Southwark Foodbank and have recently seen a 30% increase in the number of people turning to us for help compared to last year, many of these are children and families. It is not just the numbers of people being referred for emergency food that is of concern to us at Pecan, it is that we are meeting with so many more people who feel beaten by the state, rather than supported at a point of need. For some people it is the volunteers at our Southwark Foodbank that restore the possibility of hope in their lives. Surely this is not the responsibility of a few wonderful people giving their time freely, but a responsibility of us all through the structures of government.
Share with our members something positive about your organisation’s achievement or service
Like most of us in the voluntary sector, our success isn’t counted in numbers, it is counted in the difference we make to people. Most of our employment contracts are on a payment by results model. Our staff are not employed on that basis, but on a salary with no bonuses. What drives each and everyone of us is the difference we can make to people’s lives. This is shown beautifully in this letter we received from a client of our Family Works programme which shows the positive result of our holistic approach;
“I am writing to you at the moment with a happy heart on behalf of me and my children. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me especially the time you created for me. You supported me physically, emotionally and financially - you help me to get me to my feet.”
What can other network members learn from you or find out more about through you?
Universal Credit is currently the hottest topic on our table. Southwark is one of the most advanced boroughs in terms of the roll out of the service in London and in this last year we have seen a rise of 30% in the number of people using the foodbank. The key groups of households that are using the service are single people and single parent families. We are learning more and more about desperate situations that people are finding themselves in due to the changing system, such as Naomi:
Naomi* was visiting Pecan’s Southwark foodbank, having been issued with food vouchers from the Southwark Law Centre. She has severe learning difficulties, suffers from anxiety and other mental health issues. Following an assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions was declared fit for work. She was then offered to move onto Universal Credit. Naomi appealed against the decision and, as a result, her benefit payments were stopped.
A friend helped her get an appointment with the Southwark Law Centre who took up her appeal. However, appeals take time and Naomi had no income for the duration of the appeal. Our foodbank supported Naomi for 3 months (approx. 9 vouchers) before she won her appeal. Her disability benefits were reinstated and Naomi is now attending our Women’s Hub in Peckham, where she is receiving further help and support in rebuilding her life.
Why did you join 4in10? What do you enjoy about being part of the 4in10 network?
We are so often caught up in the actions of our services. I strongly believe that to change people’s situations we need to work on two levels. Firstly we need to address the needs being presented. With hunger – if we don’t feed people the hunger is not going to go away. If we are hungry, then we can actually get less done! Secondly, we need to stop the systems that are making people hungry. If all we do is keep handing out food we are not addressing the causes and only dealing with effects. As a community organisation we can’t do this alone. It is through the power of coming together in networks such as 4 in 10 that we can make the systematic changes that are needed to make life better for people long term. Our hope is that through these changes there will no longer be a need for our emergency provision services.
*Names have been changed.