The charity distributing 2,000 meals around Haringey

Sophie Warner-Housego and Georgina Frost at The Act Now Initiative shed light on the charity’s newest project to support those living in poverty

The Act Now Initiative’s vision is to promote and facilitate stronger communities in Haringey through simple, meaningful giving. The long-term goal is to make lasting changes in how our communities support each other, not just in Haringey but well beyond. Act Now is a non-profit organisation founded post-pandemic by a team of professionals with extensive experience in delivering simple community-led grassroots action.

Among its initiatives are the ‘Nourish Now Project’ and ‘Give it Forward: Community Voucher Scheme’. Each of these projects seeks to support people living in poverty in different ways, however they share the longer-term mission of combating social isolation and building stronger, more resilient and collaborative communities. The simplicity of these two models improves their sustainability and reduces waste through direct action. Both models provide the opportunity for anyone to make a valuable contribution to someone in need, at minimal personal cost or time commitment.

The Nourish Now project is a simple model, where volunteers cook one extra portion of a meal per week, which is then distributed to someone nearby in great need of a nutritious meal. Partnering specific cooks and diners encourages the formation of new social and community ties, and a friendly face can be just as valuable to diners as the meal itself. It recognises that some people do not get healthy food via foodbanks because, for various reasons, they are unable to cook meals for themselves. The project began developing its service in 2021, and subsequently launched in 2023. Since then, it has facilitated the distribution of over 2,000 meals, and currently provides around 150 meals per month in the N22 and N10 areas. Nourish Now has also partnered with local establishments in Alexandra Palace such as RoseyMoon Cafe and The Starting Gate, which both donate meals on a weekly basis.

The second model, Give it Forward, is a community voucher scheme that offers customers in participating stores the opportunity to pay for or contribute towards the cost of a second item. The donation is converted into a voucher which is distributed to people in need in the area to come in and spend as they wish. The campaign currently runs in a range of stores, all small businesses, offering a simple and effective way for individuals and businesses to actively give back to their community while supporting local businesses. The initiative recognises the importance of freedom of choice, and what sets Give it Forward apart from similar schemes is that the recipient is at the heart of the model, offering access to local businesses and opportunities that may otherwise be inaccessible. The model enables the recipient to go into the store and make their own choice of product when it is convenient.

Give it Forward launched in October at The Yard cafe in Alexandra Palace Station. Bonnie, the owner of the cafe, chose to get involved with the campaign because it’s a “very easy way to spread kindness in the community”. Within the first three weeks, 34 donations were made at this one cafe alone. The initiative is currently running in a number of stores in the Muswell Hill and Alexandra Palace areas, including The Yard, Cachao Toys, Caffeinate N10, Roni’s, The Children’s Bookshop, Broadway Pet Stores, House of Books, Crescent stores, Palace Grooming Room and Sweet Tree Bakery. Over 100 vouchers have been donated in the initial trial and the huge potential of this scheme is very exciting! The Act Now Initiative welcomes anyone interested in joining its mission to build stronger communities and who is looking for a way to help during this time of social crisis that is accessible and impactful.

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