Founder of Leytonstone food bank given royal honour


The PL84U Al-Suffa team
The PL84U Al-Suffa team

The founder of a newly Leytonstone-based food bank has received a British Empire Medal for services to the borough.

Saira Begum Mir created PL84U Al-Suffa in 2013 to hand out food, clothes, haircuts, toiletries and more to the borough’s needy.

She said the service was unique for allowing people to “pick what food they want to take home, like they would at a shop”.

Initially based in the Walthamstow Scouts hut, the charity moved to a new home in the Epicentre in Leytonstone last November.

The food bank in its new home (Credit: WF Council)

Saira told the Echo the honour was a “credit to each and every” person involved in the charity, adding: “None of [this] would have been possible without you.”

She said: “On a personal level, I know both my parents would have been very proud. Although, like many, I have suffered personal loss [due to Covid], I also feel there is positivity in how it has brought so many diverse people together, striking up unexpected friendships.”

The charity prides itself on serving “people of all faiths and of none” and provides food and gifts for “all religious and cultural celebrations” so that families can “celebrate without stress”.

Saira added: “We use the #NotJustAFoodBank hashtag for good reason, but the food bank need is sadly still growing. We currently provide food for more than 1,000 people every week.”

Find out more by visiting their website here https://www.pl84ualsuffa.co.uk/