WHO ARE WE?
Universal Harvest was founded in 2011 after an unimaginable event took place in the life of its founder. His family were victims of two arson attacks within the space of three months, which affected their home and possessions, causing them to quickly swing from living securely to merely having nothing other than the clothes they were wearing at the time. These events which took place were not only unfortunate, but a realisation for the founder who saw the impact first-hand and how life could rapidly cause you to be in need of help from others. It was this experience that moved him to not negatively dwell on the situation at hand, but to rather think positively about what had happened. You may be thinking how one can see the positive aspects in such a tragic situation, but nobody had lost their life, nobody was seriously injured and it brought out the supportive system they had as a family. Through this, Universal Harvest was birthed; from overcoming a life threatening situation, and at the same time visioning the positive. This was the very moment in which the founder began channeling and executing his thoughts on how he could build a means to support others in situations such as homelessness, sickness and poverty through the giving of non-perishable foods.
Universal Harvest started with its local church; where it began providing bags of non-perishable foods for those in financial difficulty and those who were uncomfortable to come forward to ask for support. Universal Harvest would drop off 15 bags of grocery shopping every month. People would then anonymously utilise the provisions. When its founder went grocery shopping for his personal needs, he would also buy five times if not more than he needed.
He often got interesting looks from supermarket staff, and customers who made comments such as;
You must really like vegetable oil and spaghetti OR You must really love your tea.
— Comments from Supermarket staff and customers
as he would approach the till with 15 of each item. He received these comments on whatever he was purchasing in large quantities. See pictures of the food items bought, financed by him to provide for the church.
In developing further, Universal Harvest began to put in place plans to not only provide food items for those in need, but also providing life changing information to support them to regain and fight poverty. On December 1st 2015, Universal Harvest was officially registered with Charity Commission (Reg. No. 1164628 in England & Wales).
We aim to reach as many individuals and families confronted with poverty, especially those facing unexpected tragic circumstances e.g. house fire victims, homelessness, unemployment, sickness etc. Universal Harvest is determined to make a difference by not only talking about ways support can be provided but by taking effective practical actions to alleviate poverty as far as possible.
In 2013, 7.8% of the UK population were considered to be in persistent income poverty, equivalent to around 4.6 million people. Persistent poverty is defined as being in relative income poverty both in the current year and at least two out of the three preceding years.
— Office of National Statistics – Persistent Poverty in the UK and EU, 2008-2013’ Published May 20 2015
WHAT IS POVERTY?
Relative Poverty – Relative poverty is defined as the condition in which people lack the minimum amount of income needed in order to maintain the average standard of living in the society in which they live. In contrast to Absolute poverty which refers to a condition where a person does not have the minimum amount of income needed to meet the minimum requirements for one or more basic living needs over an extended period of time. This includes things like; food, safe drinking water, health, shelter, education information and access to services
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently presented figures which showed that the percentage of children in relative and absolute poverty was unchanged, although there was a statistically insignificant fall of 100,000 for both measures. The overall number in absolute poverty was 2.6 million.
— DWP – Households Below Average Income:An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2013/14, Published June 2015 (United Kingdom)
Poverty can affect one’s health, education and day to day family life. That is why our ethos is
“Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for today!”
— Universal Harvest
Which simply means that if you can overcome the problems of today, if you can make it through the night in your current situation then there is hope of a brighter tomorrow and a brighter future as long as you plan and work for a solution to the problem of today.
HOW DO WE WORK?
Universal Harvest is initially working with other organisations (registered charities / local communities) in the borough of Newham and surrounding areas. We provide up to 10 bags of essential non-perishable and in-date food items, with each bag packaged to last a month at a time. It would then be the responsibility of that organisation to pass on the food to the individuals they have identified to be beneficiaries of our services. The organisation would then be required to provide a mandatory fortnightly update on how many of those bags have been distributed.
Universal Harvest plans to agree continual support over a period of 6 months with other organisations. During this time, we hope to then start discussions with the organisations about our advisory services to effectively provide advice on regaining stability.