December 13 2013 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Growing numbers of hungry people are turning for help to north Norfolk’s foodbanks - and a sixth is now planned for Holt.
Cromer and District Foodbank, which is marking its first anniversary, has supported around 1,300 needy people since it was set up as part of the national Trussell Trust network.
Chairman Tina Nicholas said the banks - in Cromer, Sheringham, Aylsham, North Walsham and Stalham - were now seeing about 150-160 people each month.
And for some of those receiving parcels, the dried and tinned food was their first meal in two or three days.
Mrs Nicholas said they were preparing for another rise in numbers in tourist areas like Cromer where seasonal jobs were coming to an end.
“Since we opened it’s definitely got busier, partly because we’re better known but also because, since Christmas, I think need has increased greatly,” said Mrs Nicholas.
Changes in benefits and the introduction of the so-called “bedroom tax” had all contributed to people’s problems, she added.
“When people’s benefits change or are re-assessed everything is stopped until it’s sorted out, which can take weeks. People are left with no money at all coming in and no savings they can draw on.”
Many of those referred to the service were in low-paid work.
If, for example, they lived in rural north Norfolk and their car broke down, they had to spend money repairing it in order to keep their job but were left with no spare cash for food.
Plans are now in hand to open a new foodbank in Holt this autumn although a venue has not yet been arranged.
“People think of Holt as affluent but what is surprising is that it has some of the worst child deprivation and poverty in the country,” said Mrs Nicholas, who described the past year as “an amazing experience.”
She praised the team of about 100 volunteers who kept the foodbanks running, and the continuing generosity of the public, including those who supported the News’ Banking on You winter campaign to boost donations of food.
Recent collections in Aylsham and Stalham Tescos had brought in 2.5 tonnes of food. Some of those donating had been grateful past users of the service who were now back on their financial feet.
Recipients are given vouchers by about 50 organisations including health visitors, housing associations and the Citizens Advice Bureau. In exchange for a voucher, users are given enough food to last them three days.
■ Anyone who would like to volunteer, particularly at the new Holt foodbank, should ring 0782 637 6343 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. uk
Donations can be taken to Cromer Methodist Church, Thursdays 9am-noon; Sheringham St Joseph’s RC Church, Wednesday 1.30pm-3pm; North Walsham Sacred Heart RC Church, Wednesdays 1.30-3pm and Aylsham Parish Church, Mondays 9.30am-11am.