exterior of the Bill Murray pub. People milling about outside, by an outdoor flame. The wall has a mural of Whoopie Goldberg and posters up for the fundraiser with QR codes to donate with.

Aisling Bea and Friends host Christmas foodbank fundraiser

BAFTA award winning comedian Aisling Bea organised her second annual Christmas foodbank fundraiser alongside fellow comedians at Angel Comedy Club, on December 20th. 

Between 3:00pm and 6:30pm large groups of families, comedy lovers, and people feeling the festive spirit turned up to The Bill Murray Pub — Angel Comedy’s main location and a trusted North London comedy institution — to raise money and goods for Hackney Foodbank and the Trussell Trust. 

The Trussell Trust runs a network of over 1,300 foodbanks across the UK including Hackney Foodbank, and has seen a stark increase in their use; with a 120% increase in food parcel deliveries in the past five years, and one million emergency parcels distributed for children in the last year.  

Bea first got involved with the Hackney Foodbank after stumbling across its volunteers while on a walk during the pandemic. 

Bea said: “I fell in love with all the people who were working there.”

Aisling Bea and Friends outside of the donation van

She started the fundraiser at Angel last year and was so moved by how well it went and by how many people wanted to donate that she organised it again this year. 

Bea spoke about the Trussell Trust’s Guarantee our Essentials campaign which asks UK political party leaders to support the introduction of an Essentials Guarantee within Universal Credit to ensure that the basic rate at least covers life’s essentials, such as food and bills. 

Bea said that she wished the fundraiser could just be for selection boxes, or something silly, but because of the lack of guaranteed essentials they have to fundraise for not only food but also sanitary towels, deodorant, and cleaning products.

Bea said: “It’s crazy that people have to pick between cleaning products and indignity.”

Alongside Bea at the event was comedian, and Pod Save the UK host, Nish Kumar.

Father Nishmas (alias, Nish Kumar)

People may have shown up to raise money for a good cause, but they stayed to see Nish Kumar dressed as Santa Claus (see above). 

“Father Nishmas” was dressed goofily, but had some serious things to say about the importance of foodbanks. 

Kumar said: “Foodbanks have become, unfortunately, so important in the last couple of years.

“The economic circumstances and the actions of The Government have made a lot of people’s lives really difficult, and foodbanks provide immediate needs. It’s about immediate need for food, for essential household products.” 

He spoke of learning about someone who uses a Trussell Trust foodbank in between shifts of her two jobs, and how that reflects the growing number of people across the country who are fully employed but find themselves needing their foodbank for essentials. 

The increasing need for foodbanks in the UK was echoed by spokespeople for Hackney Foodbank who said demand for Hackney Foodbank has increased by 55% this year and food donations have dropped. 

The charity, which provides emergency food for around 550 people per week, is responding to a 95% increase in referrals of people aged over 65 and an increase in single parent households in need of support. 

Pat Fitzsimons, CEO of Hackney Foodbank, said: “We urgently need more donations, so the timing of this Food Drive couldn’t be better.

“Not only are Aisling and Friends and the Angel Comedy Club making a tangible difference to people in crisis this Christmas, they’re also cheering us all up!

“Our very heartfelt thanks go to everyone who supported the event.”

James from Angel Comedy loading up the donation van

Angel Comedy Club co-founder Barry Ferns has a personal connection to food insecurity, and was immensely proud of his club’s ability to raise money and goods for the foodbanks.

Ferns said: “I’ve spent time homeless and I know how hard getting access to food is when you don’t have money or a place that you’ve got to stay.

“We’ve let people live here [at the Bill Murray] because they’ve not got anywhere else to go. There have been a number of people that have lived here that would have ended up in the streets. 

We want to give something back because there are lots of people both like us and not like us that are trying just as hard and it’s not happening for them.”

Ferns emphasised how people raise a lot during Christmas, but there is demand for food over the summer as well. 

Ferns said: “A foodbank is not just for Christmas.”

The event was a roaring success, raising 1,582.7 kilos of donations, and the comedy show attached to it sold out so quickly Angel put together a lineup for a second show so more people could attend. 

In the light of the Columbia Road carol singing shutting down from overcrowding, it is clear that Londoners are looking for something communal, wholesome and holiday-oriented to do.

Hackney Foodbank relies on volunteer support, and is always open for more volunteers, or for people to set up regular giving if they are unable to attend the foodbank in person. 

Jenna Fansa, from the foodbank’s fundraising team said: “Volunteering is a great way to meet people, learn new skills and make a tangible difference in your community.” 

For more information visit:

You can find your local foodbank at: 

Firat article image used with permission from Hackney Foodbank.

Other images taken by Sophie Clark.

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