Gratitude’s Report; 2021 – a year in service

Dear Trustees, volunteers, supporters and well-wishers

2021 was an amazing year for Gratitude Charity and you are all to thank for helping us grow through such challenging times.

Firstly, we had a change among the trustees; Sarit Cohen joined as a Trustee replacing Kamlesh Patel. We would like to thank Kamlesh for his many years of valuable service at Gratitude and give a very warm welcome to Sarit.

On the volunteers’ front, there are now nearly 80 supporting our various services and projects:

  • serving the public,
  • driving vans,
  • sorting out goods,
  • kids and baby services,
  • craft activities,
  • singing and dancing groups,
  • all the necessary supporting activities,
  • run the charity such as administration, media and communication and various maintenance tasks.

Our volunteers never seem to ever rest! Additionally, we recommended 15 outstanding Gratitude volunteers for the Hero of Hertfordshire award this year.

As the charity grew, we also extended our management team to include team leaders. Team leaders are those volunteers who are responsible for various departments. The management team now consists of: CEO (Trustee), Communications (Volunteer), Legal and Finance (Volunteer), Fundraising (Volunteer), Volunteers co-ordinator (Trustee), Kids area and Creative club (Volunteer), Site Management (Volunteer) and Projects (Trustee).

Throughout a challenging year that continued to be overshadowed by Covid, lockdowns and furlough the support from within the local community and beyond exceeded our wildest expectations. We are very thankful for the amazing donations of goods and monetary grants that enabled us to deliver essential services to whoever came to our doors in need.

Here are some key achievements from throughout 2021 that would not have been possible without this amazing generosity, community spirit and our collective effort. Please check our website for more details on each of these:

Grocery Giveaway

  • Grocery Giveaway: Our Gratitude groceries giveaway benefits an average of 2000 people a week, with an estimate of a £90,000 worth of groceries given away monthly. And it is zero waste! Local farmers collect for their animals any food surpluses.
  • Cold room facility: 2021 is the year when we built a food storing area which includes a cold room facility for our Hub. We would like to thank the following for kind donations towards the costs: The Locker Foundation, Sainsbury’s LTD and Waitrose Mill Hill. Many companies donated the needed building materials and many individuals donated their professional time to make it happen. We would like to thank Albert David from ABC Catering, Goss Environmental Cladding, Lawson Builders of St Albans, Duncan Cohen, Painter Tibor Palinkas, Tony and Matt ceiling fitters from the Alexandra Wylie Foundation and builder Danny Perez. Also, a special mention for outstanding services to this project is to go to Joe Fletcher.
  • Christmas boxes for the elderly: A very well received social outreach where Gratitude’s volunteers sponsored by Hertsmere Borough Council made boxes packed with festive goodies to giveaway to 100 elderly residents in the community.

Kids & Baby Corner

  • Keeping up with demand: This year our kids and baby area supported many local families with essential needs. Hertsmere Borough Council kindly donated vouchers that enabled us to keep up with the requests, especially the nappies, wipes and baby food. We also gave away a lot of kids’ uniforms, clothes, shoes, books, toys, strollers and car seats. Thank you to Sebby’s Corner for covering up our shortages!
  • Halloween: What a day to celebrate. All the spooky things were present – the decorations, scary dressed up volunteers and giving out tons of sweets to our service users’ kids. We also sent out hundreds of gifts to a local house in the town who runs a Halloween extravaganza every year and gives them out on the night.
  • Christmas: A covid-safe Gratitude’s Santa visited on 12th December. Thanks to a lot of donations of toys by many shops, groups, schools and individuals he was able to gift out more then 200 gifts to kids in the local community. Cheeky Monkeys Nursery also received Christmas gifts for the kids, so no kid will go without. Social services collected Christmas gifts to kids in care.

Craft and Other Clubs

  • Barnet Hospital: Gratitude Knitting for Charity did very well this year. Our ladies kept the knitting and crocheting going even though the hospitals, due to covid-19 couldn’t accept them. When the time was right, we managed to send over 6 bin bags full of premature babies’ hats and blankets.
  • Poppies: We also took part in the Poppies Appeal, making and selling knitted poppies for the benefit of the Royal British Legion.
  • Singers: We were very excited about forming this very inclusive group, who meets twice a week to sing uplifting tunes from all cultures. Under the direction of the much-loved choir aficionado Chel. The singing is helping to bring closer various members of the community that otherwise will be in isolation.
  • Salsa: Under the tutelage of Tony, who is a classically trained dancer, once a week there is a very vibrant session of Salsa for beginners, full of Latin America music and steps.

Outreach / Education

  • DoE: This year we have seen an expansion in youth workshops and volunteering programmes including the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Some parents also brought their kids often to sort the groceries, tidy the tins shelves and transfer dry food from big sacks to small bags. In particular, Yavne College and Elstree Screen Arts were very involved with supporting our various projects and supported by us whenever the need was there. Those sets in the ESA performances were creatively made of items donated to Gratitude.
  • NCS: An NCS youth group volunteered with us in the summer, helping with sorting the Afghan Refugees donations. And super helpful they were.
  • Burst the Bubble: The youth group volunteered with serving the public on our busy groceries give away Sunday.
  • FZY – the Federation of Zionist Youth: They spent with us a day with a workshop about the world’s problem of food waste. They then volunteered in practical terms to see what Gratitude is doing about it on a community level.
  • Mitzvah Day: In collaboration between Gratitude, Cllr Dan Ozarow, The Borehamwood Mosque and local schools. ‘As part of Borehamwood Mitzvah Day 2021 (a Jewish community & faith led day of social action) which Dan Ozarow was privileged to help organise alongside Gratitude. Hundreds of local children from Kenilworth Primary School, Yavneh College, Borehamwood Mosque, St. Teresa’s Catholic Primary School Borehamwood and Saffron Green Primary School. School Children spent the week producing drawings, poems, sculptures and artwork in a Homage to Planet Earth. We put their lovely creations on public display at the Gratitude Hub on Shenley Road. Other activities on the day included: Dozens of local residents, including children and their parents, conducted a litter pick at Maxwell Park. Our friends from Borehamwood Islamic Society invited us into their prayer hall, so we could understand more about their faith. After that, they joined us in helping to clear the park of rubbish.
  • Manor Way Litter Pick: Tidying up and litter pick of Manor Way and the shopping parade, led by Councillor Kaza, where friends from the International Christian Fellowship joined us.
  • Borehamwood market stall: Very successful community-based interaction of Gratitude’s volunteers with the local community, promoting Gratitude via giving/donations accepted exchanges.

Projects

  • Afghan Appeal: We responded to the Afghan Appeal by collecting and distributing clothes, toys, snacks and toiletries to the refugees. An estimated 400 bin bags full of clothes plus many crates full of toys, books and snacks were given away in over a month of operation. Thank you to Griggs Builders, Holly Kal-Wiess, Goods for Good, Yavneh College and many more who helped with that.
  • Haiti: We helped with the Haiti relief, filling up a container with detergents for the families there, victims of a recent earthquake. Yavne College sent lovely educational materials and cards to the kids from there.
  • TV Monitors: Our save from waste efforts saw a new challenge earlier in the year, when we collected 26 TV monitors from a hospital refurbishment! They were made fit to be used in schools by our team of technically savvy volunteers, Tibor and Adi. Thank you to Carla Bispham from the Barnet Hospital Trust for arranging. The monitors were donated to Dame Alice Owen School, Fairway School and Hertswood Academy.
  • Smart Tablets: 5 tablets were donated by Stephen Brown in memory of his wife Sam. We donated them onward to students with special educational needs of Parkside Primary in Borehamwood.
  • Detergents: Detergents donated by Henkel LTD were given to local schools and nurseries as well as to other charities, food banks and NHS surgeries.

Hub

  • Facia boards: These were donated by Acrelane Timber LTD. Thank you to Bunty Shah for arranging. They were made into signs by a fantastic group of local artists.
  • Grand Opening: We had a spectacular opening event for the Hub hosting MP Oliver Dowden and many of Gratitude’s well-wishers and supporters. MP Oliver Dowden helped us to find a new, bigger and more suitable home for our rapidly growing charity. Although Gratitude has operated from the building since last November, today was our first opportunity to run the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony safely. Covid restrictions and the availability of our MP only allowed us to organise this long waited but worthy event. MP Oliver Dowden was taken on a tour of the Hub, viewing the various areas of distributions culminating in a visit to the newly established cold storage facility. His visit was also an opportunity to meet and thank some of our supporters who contribute significantly to the growth of Gratitude.

Thank you to …

We must thank and express our gratitude to the following organizations; without their continued engagement and collaboration all this would not be possible:

  • Bhaktivedanta Manor,
  • Lubavitch of Edgware,
  • The Barnet Food Hub,
  • 4 Seasons Outreach,
  • The Alexandra Wylie Foundation,
  • The Sopwell Community Trust,
  • Sewa Day Watford,
  • Colindale Foodbank,
  • St Barnabas Foodbank,
  • Chipping Barnet Foodbank,
  • Watford Foodbank,
  • Potters Bar Foodbank,
  • South Oxey Foodbank,
  • The Poplars Borehamwood,
  • Livability Borehamwood,
  • Fountain court Borehamwood,
  • One YMCA Borehamwood,
  • Mencap house, Borehamwood,
  • Best Before Project,
  • Pages Studs Farm,
  • Give.Help.Share,
  • Volunteers on Wheels,
  • Feed Up, Warm Up,
  • Goods for Good UK,
  • Harrow Care Plus,
  • Borehamwood Islamic Society,
  • Mucker Duckers,
  • GIFT,
  • Elstree Way Clinic,
  • Essex Air Ambulance,
  • London Community Kitchen,
  • Sebby’s Corner, and
  • Shishukunj London for the amazing regular support to Gratitude. Non- perishable groceries are hard for us to source although in high demand from our service users. We are very thankful in particular to Naeshma and Navin for their kind long-standing collaboration.

Special Thanks

In addition, we acknowledge a special thanks needs to be expressed to the following who have helped through the year:

  • Bam
  • Mr J J
  • Arnold Clark Automobile Foundation
  • Magic Grants
  • JAM
  • Stormont School
  • Little Elms Montessori
  • Borehamwood Christmas Trees
  • Kidream Shop
  • ‘Tell Me Everything’ TV crew
  • ‘Holby City’ TV crew
  • ‘The Bill’ TV crew
  • GRC Global
  • The late Beryl Cooper of Barnet
  • Dame Alice Owens school
  • The Hall School of Swiss Cottage
  • Morrisons, Honeypot Lane
  • Morrisons, Colindale
  • Kingdom of Light Church Hatfield
  • HPS Harrow
  • North London Collegiate School
  • Cranborne School Potters Bar
  • Booker Cash & Curry
  • The Venue Creche
  • The Ibis Hotel
  • Hertsmere Borough Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council, and
  • Salt Cave Borehamwood for doing a Christmas raffle for us and donating vouchers.

Final words

As the year draws to close the grand finale for us is the starting of the work on the Gratitude Community Kitchen. Work that will be carried on in 2022 to further expand our food services to those that are in need.

Lastly, the biggest thank you goes to our team of dedicated volunteers who are engaged 7 days a week in making the magic of Gratitude real!

The magic of saving what we can from waste and turning all these blessings, small steps at a time, into deeds of caring, sharing and upliftment for the betterment of our local community and society.

Cover photo by fauxels from Pexels

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