“I’m just hoping for the best, I’ve been here 20 years now.”

Ziggy owns Progress Barbers in Lewisham. During the pandemic he used his own money to set up a food bank from his shop and deliver food parcels to those in need – on foot.

“Since March when things weren’t allowed to open, my wife suggested to me ‘why don’t you do something, open a foodbank’. I’m a giving person, even before the pandemic. Every December I’d cook food and serve it in my shop to those who don’t have homes to go to.

“At the beginning of the pandemic I used my own money to start the foodbank and run it as I didn’t know who to turn to, who to ask for help. I have some good neighbours who have put me on an app called Nextdoor, who work in the area and with FareShare London, who do a lot of deliveries to foodbanks.

“I’ve been working in my barber shop and doing the foodbank at the same time. I personally deliver to 60 houses a week. I still use my funds to run it, but I still get food from FareShare and donations from local people. I fit it in whenever I have time.

“The most challenging thing for me has been keeping the business running, keeping on top of my expenses. Also transportation to deliver the food, as most of the time I walk to deliver them as I don’t drive. I enjoy doing it, I’ve got no regrets. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. If people’s hearts are in the right place we can make this world a better place to live in.

“I have people that help me. I’ve got a good friend – Louis Howell, a really nice guy who’s really helped me. His mum’s a teacher and they’ve given me a lot of support by dropping food off. My daughter’s primary school Ivydale in Nunhead has been very supportive too, both the school and head teacher Helen Ingham have donated food. Laura Tilbury from Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency and Simone Riddle from Lewisham Local have been very supportive as well. It’s everyone put together that makes it work, not just an individual. I reach out to others for help too.

“With the shops closing again, I don’t know how I’ll manage to pay the bills. The business hasn’t been the same, I lost a lot of appointments. My shop has been very COVID secure, I’ve got all the equipment, the sanitiser gel, PPE and I’ve only been allowing two people in the shop at a time. If people came without a mask when they visited the store, we’ve been providing them with one. I’ve put in a lot of work to make everything COVID secure and make people feel safe. Most of my work has been by appointment and it just hasn’t been very busy. I think people have been scared to come out.

“I’m just hoping for the best, I’ve been here 20 years now.

“My most positive experience is seeing people come together. People have been looking out for each other and helping each other. I’ve talked to and met so many new people. People recommend me to others and through that I deliver more and meet more people.

“It’s been very sad for me on some occasions as people I take food to have passed. This is often from old age or long term illnesses.

“I hope to still be able to continue, to prepare the food in my kitchen. Now that there’s another lockdown, I’m displaying the food in the shop. I’m just doing my best.”

Ziggy spoke to us in November 2020