Comedians, personalities and TV stars have joined forces to try to tackle food poverty and encourage donations for Hackney Food Bank Warehouse.
The mastermind behind the charity event, held at the Bill Murray Angel Comedy Club in Angel, London, was comedian and This Way Up actress Aisling Bea, who said she hoped to raise awareness of “what point things got out of hand” due to the cost of living crisis.
Speaking to Sky News alongside Barry Ferns, creative director and managing director of The Bill Murray, Bea said: “During the lockdown I became friends with one of the ladies, Tanya, who runs the food bank at Hackney and she is just amazing.
“The need for food banks has grown so much over the past year that something like this just connected with the community and went through comedy.
“It’s something Barry and I care about deeply.”
Speaking of the importance of food banks in particular, Bea added: “Many individuals and families have been brought to their knees in recent years, and people at food banks and the Trussell Trust are often their only line of defence.
“I think giving a physical donation gives a lot more weight to what we’re trying to promote, which is the work that the trust and the food banks are doing.
“It’s not just about the people running it and the donations, it’s also about how emotionally draining it is. Governments around the world are lucky to have these charities, but instead treat them as if they were temporary crisis centers rather than, for many people and regions, a long-term way to manage and stay alive.
“Food banks aren’t going anywhere and [the government] are going to have to support them at some point.”
“Inverted Santa Claus”
The concept of “inverted Santa Claus” was central to the event, where members of the public donated food to the cause rather than receiving a gift from the man with the beard.
London City Voices also led a song of all nations’ favorite Christmas carols.
Mr Ferns added: “It’s amazing. Even for the helpers alone, we’ve had 50 different people come to help us. It’s also really humbled the number of well-known comedians, performers and actors. who join us and want to be here.
“People don’t know how much food banks are needed. There is so much shame in asking for things and unless you are offered the opportunity to do this service you don’t realize it. C is a feeling of generosity.”
4.7 million behind on bills, report says
People are turning to recycled gifts for Christmas
Surprise drop in pre-Christmas retail sales signals gloomy cost of living
Comedians, TV presenters and actors woo guests
A host of award-winning comedians, TV presenters and actors were on hand to welcome guests, thank them for donations and smile for a festive selfie, including Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Nish Kumar, James Acaster, Joel Dommett and Ed Gamble.
“Whenever you have the opportunity to do something like this, it’s good to take it with both hands and really do it,” said Acaster, who was joined by “Father Nishmas” – Kumar in costume. Santa Claus, with beard and glasses.
“I had no idea it was going to be such a social event, so it doubled as a nice little catch-up with lots of old friends.”
“It’s extremely festive,” adds Kumar. “People brought a lot of food, it’s really positive.
“The Billy Murray, from the start, has been keen to integrate into the local community and they do a lot of work here, so it makes sense that they’re involved in that. Good people.”