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Gordon Brown steps in to help save one of the UK’s largest food banks from closure

We Care in south London is facing closure by Christmas unless it can raise £25,000 for its energy bills

Gordon Brown is trying to save one of the UK’s largest food banks after soaring energy bills left it facing possible closure by Christmas.

The former prime minister has donated £150 – the amount of the council tax rebate being given to households – to We Care Food Bank in Lewisham, south London, and is calling on others to do the same.

“It is unbearable to think that any food bank should close at a time like this,” Brown said on Twitter, revealing he and his wife had donated £150.

The food bank needs to raise £25,000 before the end of the year to help with running costs and any donations will be matched by insurance firm Aviva.

The Big Issue reported last month that We Care, which serves 3,000 people, would have to close by Christmas after the monthly cost of running the fridges rose from £70 to £500 and left it on the brink of bankruptcy.

Founder Ray Barron-Woolford said Liz Truss’s new energy price cap for businesses is not enough to save the food bank on its own, as its bills will still soar to over £15,000 next year.

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“I think it is basically going to save us,” Barron-Woolford said of Brown’s intervention.

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It all started when Barron-Woolford appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme at 6.15am on Thursday, not expecting many people to be listening. Brown was, and by the time Barron-Woolford got to the food bank to open up the former PM’s team were waiting and wanting to help.

“For Deptford it is huge – for the people we help in this community,” said Barron-Woolford. “For the people that depend on us it is about whether you live or die. Food banks do more than just give people a tin of beans.”

Brown has been active this autumn with a fight against the cost of living crisis. He has teamed up with the Big Issue to demand immediate government action on a “poverty time bomb” when bills go up in October.

There’s also a hint of serendipity to Brown’s intervention, Barron-Woolford added.

 “Our building is called Kath’s Place, after Kath Duncan who came from Kirkcaldy, which is where Gordon Brown is the MP,” he said. “It was almost as if she reached out from the grave and sent a Scottish MP to help us.”

We Care’s fundraiser can be found here.

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Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.

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