A food bank is having to turn away people in need as its struggles to provide for a swelling number of users 'desperate' for help.

The Rukhsana Khan Foundation food bank is reliant on food donations to feed Walthamstow’s homeless, vulnerable and impoverished.

Every week, more and more people turn up earlier and earlier, desperate to secure their spot in line for a hot meal and a bag of food, the founder Jahangir Khan says.

Jahangir was inspired to launch the charity in memory of his mother, who died of cancer in 2012; in 2013 launched the Rukhsana Khan Foundation food bank, Walthamstow’s first food bank.

“I remember talking to my mum about starting some charity work, I was thinking of helping out in a third world country. My mum looked at me and said ‘why so far away when there are so many people struggling to get by right here'”, Jahangir recalled.

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Jahangir Khan opened the food bank in 2013, inspired by his mum to help the local community.

On Saturday, November 9, the William Morris Community Centre in Greenleaf Road, where the food bank and meal is held every week, is overflowing with people.

“I lost count how many we have served today after about 37 hot meals,” Rukhsana says. “It seems people are queuing up earlier each week to make sure they are one of the few people here in time to secure a meal. I can see a trend of desperation in the users of the food bank, things only seem to be getting worse.”

Jahangir is hopeful more residents and businesses will come forward and provide food to help support the charity.

As I arrive, children and teachers from Chapel End Junior Academy in Roberts Road, are dropping of bags of food.

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Food is sorted in to bags to be handed out to the food bank's users.

Headteacher Anita Crowther-Smith says she found out about the food bank online.

“I really wanted to connect to a charity in the local community and this was perfect for us”, she said.

“Its important for the children, who have been collecting food to donate, to understand the diversity and needs of the local community”

One volunteer, Husnain Shahid has been helping the charity for three years. Now a software engineer, Husnain began volunteering while at university as he felt he should “give something back” to the community he grew up in.

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Husnain Shahid says he has learnt compassion volunteering at the food bank.

“Volunteering here I have learnt to have compassion for others. You really began to understand that these people are not scroungers like the media might say, they’re just regular hard-working people who are down on their luck.

One of the food bank’s regulars, David Bridgewater, 50, tells me the food bank is a vital lifeline for people like himself.

David, formerly a worker for Thomas Cook, has been unemployed for a year.

Every Saturday he visits the food bank for a hot meal, a chat, and to collect a bag of supplies to keep him going for the week.

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David Bridgewater heard about the food bank from a friend.

“It’s a really big help and I’m very grateful and appreciative for it,” he said. “The people who work here are very nice.

“I don’t think I realised how much I rely on it until there was one week when there was no milk in the food bags and I had to go the week without milk.”

Another volunteer, Emma Stanworth, 24, said: “I’ve been volunteering for about 6 months now. It has been a wonderful way to give a little of my time and make a big difference in my community. I’ve lived in Walthamstow two years, but this food bank has made me feel truly connected to the fabric of the area.

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The food bank is reliant on the help of volunteers. Emma (third from left) says it has made her feel connected to the community.

“Across Walthamstow and London, the cost of renting and buying continues to rise making it harder for families to afford the necessities, or feel squeezed out. I feel strongly about communities pulling together in these times so when I found out about RFK, I wanted to help.

“I think Brexit is going to hit the poorest the hardest. But I hope projects like RFK can show all are welcome in London.”

The Rukhsana Khan Foundation is holding a comedy show at the Bull Theatre, Barnet, on January 20 to raise much-needed funds for the foodbank.

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