Comedians, personalities and television stars joined forces to try and tackle food poverty and encourage donations for Hackney Food Bank Warehouse.
The brains behind the charity event, held at the Bill Murray Angel Comedy Club in Angel, London, was comic and This Way Up actor Aisling Bea, who said she hopes to raise awareness of “how badly things have escalated” due to the cost of living crisis.
Speaking to Sky News alongside Barry Ferns, creative and managing director of The Bill Murray, Bea said: “During lockdown I became pals with one of the ladies, Tanya, who runs Hackney food bank and she is just amazing.
“The need for food banks has grown so dramatically in the last year that something like this just connected with the community and crossed over with comedy.
“It is something that both Barry and I care deeply about.”
Speaking about the importance of food banks in particular, Bea added: “Many people and families have been brought to their knees the last few years, and people in food banks and the Trussell Trust are often their only line of defence.
“I think physically donating something gives a lot more weight to what we are trying to promote, which is the work that the trust and food banks do.
“It is not just about the people running it and the donations, it is also how emotionally draining it is. Governments everywhere are lucky to have these charities but instead treat them as if they are temporary crisis centres rather than, for many people and areas, a long term way of managing and staying alive.
“Food banks are not going anywhere and [the government] are going to have to support them at some point.”
The concept of “reverse Santa” was at the centre of the event, where members of the public donated food to the cause rather than receive a gift from the man with the beard.
London City Voices also led a singalong of all the nations favourite Christmas carols.
Mr Ferns added: “It’s been amazing. Even for helpers alone, we had 50 different people coming along to help. It has also been really humbling the amount of well-known comedians, performers and actors that are getting on board and want to be here.
“People don’t know how necessary food banks are. There is so much shame about asking for things and unless you are offered the opportunity to do that service you don’t realise. It’s a sense of generosity.”
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Comedians, TV presenters and actors woo guests
A host of award-winning comedians, TV presenters and actors attended, in order to greet guests, thank them for donations and smile for a festive selfie, including Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Nish Kumar, James Acaster, Joel Dommett and Ed Gamble.
“Any time you get an opportunity to do something like this it is good to just take it with both hands and come and do it really,” said Acaster, who was joined by ‘Father Nishmas’ – Kumar in the Santa costume, complete with beard and glasses.
“I didn’t know it was going to be such a social event, so it has doubled up as a nice little catch-up with a lot of old friends.”
“It is extremely festive,” Kumar chimes in. “People have been bringing loads of food in, it is really positive.
“The Billy Murray, ever since it started, has been keen to mesh itself into the local community and they do lots of work here, so it makes sense that they would be involved in this. Good people.”