By STEVE DOWNES
Thursday, November 29, 2012
As we get ready for festive food and fun, we are asking you to spare a thought - and one item of shopping - for those who are in crisis.
Despite the idyllic image of much of north Norfolk, there are many people who have hit rock-bottom, and cannot feed themselves or their children.
The North Norfolk News has joined with Cromer and District Foodbank for a Banking on You appeal - urging you to give a little to help a lot.
The appeal asks you to put one extra item in your shopping trolley to go into emergency boxes to tide people over while they get help.
Each week, we will publish a shopping list of what is needed the most, including food, drink, toiletries - and some Christmas treats.
With demand rising, the foodbank on Wednesday opened a Sheringham centre to add to the one at Cromer.
Additional centres are expected to follow at Aylsham, Holt and North Walsham, while other north Norfolk communities are also showing an interest.
North Norfolk News editor Richard Batson said: “Cromer and District Foodbank has shown us all the way by providing emergency help for the most needy among us. We are determined to support the cause.
“It’s such a simple and inexpensive way to give, in the knowledge that what you donate will go to whoever needs it the most. So, if you are able, please get behind the Banking on You appeal.”
Some families and individuals in north Norfolk could be eating a tin of beans for their Christmas lunch - because they do not have the money for anything else.
That is the reality facing some of the neediest people, who have been confronted by a crisis because of bad luck or a change of circumstances.
In some homes, parents will go without meals to ensure that their children are fed, while others are surviving on no more than a subsistence diet.
Kevin Willimott from Cromer and District Foodbank said: “It’s quite easy to get caught up in the euphoria of Christmas and forget that there are people looking at having a tin of beans for Christmas lunch.
“We’ve also encountered people who are living on nothing but bread and brown sauce. I struggle to get my head around the fact that there are people in that situation in our society today.”
The foodbank, which launched in August, has handed out three days-worth of essential items to 132 people, including 38 children.
Foodbank chairman Tina Nicholas said: “One of the most ridiculous issues is with benefits. When somebody reports a change of circumstances, they get their benefits stopped and they are expected to live on fresh air.”
She added: “The response that we’ve had from the public since the foodbank was launched has been staggering. When we have done supermarket collections, so many people have given something and said ‘I’ve known hard times’. People realise this could happen to anyone.”
Mr Willimott added: “The generosity has come across every area of society. People would still give, even when they themselves were struggling. It’s very heartwarming.”
Those in need are advised to contact an agency, including a housing association, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, adult social services, the Red Cross or local churches.
They will then fill in a voucher, which can be brought to the foodbank in exchange for three days of emergency supplies.
● Items can be dropped off at the North Norfolk News office, Church Street, Cromer, between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, or Cromer Methodist Church hall, Hall Road, Cromer, between 1.30pm and 3pm on Thursdays. Alternatively, call the foodbank on 07826 376343 if you have a significant amount to collect from further afield.