Look out for Huey – 40 years ahead of his time and still going strong

people applaud at a ceremony
Carla Thomas (left) Healthy Living Platform’s community food manager, Cllr Jim Dickson and HLP CEO Kate Bull

Brixton will soon see another electric vehicle new to its streets, but Huey the Hub Float, based at the Healthy Living Platform hub on Brixton Road, is already well over 40 years old.

And the former milk float will have no trouble sticking to new 20mph limits – that’s his maximum speed.

Healthy Living Platform (HLP), the Lambeth-based food charity and its surplus food hub at 336 Brixton Road will use the customised, and occasionally temperamental, milk float to redistribute donated surplus food to community groups across the borough.

The charity’s move to an emissions-free vehicle is part of its commitment to Lambeth council to help reduce carbon emissions throughout the borough and another step to help Lambeth be carbon neutral by 2030.

HLP CEO Kate Bull said: “The milk float will help us get essential food out to communities in an efficient and eco-friendly way.

“Using a fully electric vehicle means we can reach new spaces like schools and community events without the issue of harmful fumes or noisy engines.

“Economically it will be much cheaper to run, cutting diesel costs altogether. The 20mph speed limit will make it perfect for roads in Lambeth – a ‘20’s plenty’ borough.”

Hygiene product donations will also feature – they were part of Kate Bull’s Swim for Soap Campaign, which highlighted the difficulty of having to choose between food and hygiene during the current cost-of-living crisis.

The launch event yesterday (18 September) also saw the unveiling of a new mural in the hub.

mural behind crowd at launch event

Transformed from a derelict car park, the hub gets a burst of colour from the mural which shows the range of fruit and veg to be found in Lambeth. It was created by artists Claire Rye (aka Chok @pandas_jams) and Sie @sie.ldn.

Some of the images will be transferred to Huey – making the vehicle an even more striking addition to local traffic.

Kate Bull and Jim Dickson, Lambeth council job-share cabinet member for healthier communities, welcomed Huey at the ceremony.

Kate Bull said HLP works with more than 40 local community groups with surplus food from the Felix Project and City Harvest.

Huey can carry about two and a half tonnes of food and HLP receives about four and a half tonnes of food a week.

Other food stored at the hub is from the Household Fund, a Lambeth council initiative that enables HLP to guarantee that it will always have essential items. All the community groups and pantries it works with have access to it.

Hygiene products are also distributed from the hub.

milk float in a loading bay

Because of the cost of living many people now face scary choices around whether they can afford nappies and toiletries, said Kate Bull.

“So, through the Household Fund, we are now able to find nappies, toilet roll, sanitary protection, incontinence pads and things that preserve people’s dignity.”

HLP is also campaigning to raise money to buy toiletries.

“We’ve raised just under £1,000 so far and we’ve had odds and ends donated to us,” said Kate Bull. “That will be going out to the community as well, to support people to make sure that people are able to get through the cost of living crisis and perhaps not have to make some of those difficult choices around their lives.”

On behalf of the council, Cllr Dickson thanked HLP for its work. “Eighteen months ago I was here,” he said. “It was a sort of scruffy former warehouse.” Deliveries were all being done from Brixton Recreation Centre.

two people cutting a ribbon

“Obviously the offices were here. What the organisation needed was a facility where food storage, distribution, the office, the preparation, could all be brought together.

“At the time, it seemed like a bit of a far-off dream, although the plan was there. Now here we are with all those things plus the float. And I just think it’s a tremendous tribute to the work Healthy Living Platform have done.

“No-one in this room, I know, ever forgets what this is really all about.

“Just people out there in our community hurting, needing food, needing the sort of support we’re seeing here.

“It’s brilliant to see that we’re not only now going to be able to get in food out and around the borough sustainably, but some of these other things as well,” said Cllr Dickson.

“Huge congratulations and thanks to the partners that Kate has talked about as well. We really appreciate what you are doing for our food system in the borough for people who are hurting and can’t afford all the food and the kind of items that we’re now providing for them.”


Instagram: @living_platform