Good Causes

Fresh food and festive treats for family of 8

Food doesn’t stay on the table long at Niki Bilgin’s house in North London where each meal has to feed Niki, her husband and 6 young children.

Complicating matters is the fact that Niki, 42, is unable to work due to a range of serious health issues including a hole in the heart, Fibromyalgia and Bronchitis. Husband Erkin is her registered carer and the couple live on Social Security benefits. They have been isolating at home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic due to Niki’s poor health.

In these circumstances, making fresh, healthy meals for her children – 5 girls and a boy aged from 2 to 11 – would be almost impossible without a weekly visit from the National Lottery-funded Zebras Children & Adults Charity. Every Monday, just after midday, a volunteer arrives with bags of fresh produce and a few treats for the kids.

Niki said, “They [Zebras] came into our lives at the beginning of February and they’re amazing. They’re much more than just the people who deliver fruit and veg on a Monday – they’re like a counselling service and they’d do anything for the children.”

At Easter, the delivery included some chocolate eggs, an unexpected gift that had Niki and her children in tears. Now, with Christmas just weeks away, the charity has already delivered three bags stuffed with gift-wrapped presents for the family.

Niki said, “It’s hard to believe that in this day and age there are still people who would go to the ends of the earth for you.”

The coronavirus outbreak has ensured the Zebras Children & Adults Charity has been busier than ever supporting families in North London. Fortunately, it was given a grant from The National Lottery’s £600Million emergency fund that enabled it to provide fresh fruit and veg to 31 families – including Niki’s – in the Borough of Enfield.

Each week, in the run up to Christmas, Zebras volunteers are putting a little extra in each bag – an advent calendar, a story book or some chocolate.

For Niki and her family, the weekly visit from Zebras has made an enormous difference. She said, “Without them I don’t know what we would have done. The food is incredible, but it’s the little things they do that make the difference.”

8th December 2020

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