Coronavirus: Romford charity providing food for families in Ethiopia and Colombia

PUBLISHED: 10:00 12 April 2020

A volunteer puts together a food parcel in Colombia. Picture: Stand By Me

A volunteer puts together a food parcel in Colombia. Picture: Stand By Me

Stand By Me

A Romford-based international children’s charity is assisting families in some of the most impoverished areas of the world who face food shortages because of coronavirus.

Stand By Me, which was established by Hornchurch teacher David Spurdle in 1995 and initially run out of his garden shed, has raised over £60,000 to provide food parcels to families in rural Ethiopia and Colombia. The charity will begin to offer similar help in Romania this week.

The parcels are comprised of staples such as flour, cooking oil and rice, as well as durable foodstuffs like peanut butter. To date, over 550 have been delivered, and the organisation is committed to provide further packages for a minimum of six months

Emergency food is required in the areas after the coronavirus forced the closure of local schools, which many children living in poverty rely on for meals. Stand By Me’s own sites - which provide food alongside schooling, care centres, clinics and teacher training - have also shut.

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Executive director Ahmad Ayoubi, who himself relied on the charity’s assistance while growing up in Lebanon, said the support would make a significant difference in areas whose remoteness did not make them immune to the pandemic.

“Being in a remote area is not a barrier to the virus” he said.

He also acknowledged that it was not an easy time for many British families to contribute, and the generosity shown by people - many from Havering - had been overwhelming.

“I am so grateful towards those in Havering who have donated to our urgent food appeal. Words cannot express how much this lifeline of food will mean to families living in the poorest circumstances.”

Anyone wishing to contribute to the appeal can find further details at

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