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‘It’s a lifesaver’ - Churches join forces to launch independent foodbank in Great Yarmouth

PUBLISHED: 15:22 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:29 17 February 2014

Launch of the Great Yarmouth Foodbank. Great Yarmouth Foodbank, run by volunteers and supported by the borough council, is a partnership between three local churches: Great Yarmouth Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church, in Gorleston. (L TO R) Alan Smith, Ben Selfe, Rev Linda Ricketts, Mayor of Great Yarmouth John Burroughs and Liz Townson.  Picture: James Bass

Launch of the Great Yarmouth Foodbank. Great Yarmouth Foodbank, run by volunteers and supported by the borough council, is a partnership between three local churches: Great Yarmouth Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church, in Gorleston. (L TO R) Alan Smith, Ben Selfe, Rev Linda Ricketts, Mayor of Great Yarmouth John Burroughs and Liz Townson. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

A trio of churches have clubbed together to ensure no one in Great Yarmouth goes hungry by launching their own independent foodbank.

Launch of the Great Yarmouth Foodbank.
Great Yarmouth Foodbank, run by volunteers and supported by the borough council, is a partnership between three local churches: Great Yarmouth Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church, in Gorleston.

Picture: James BassLaunch of the Great Yarmouth Foodbank. Great Yarmouth Foodbank, run by volunteers and supported by the borough council, is a partnership between three local churches: Great Yarmouth Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church, in Gorleston. Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church in Gorleston have joined forces to provide the much-needed service to support people in the borough facing a crisis through a change in circumstances.

Individually the churches have been handing out food parcels for several months and after getting together to share best practise, they have now launched the Great Yarmouth Foodbank.

Through weekly drop in sessions vulnerable visitors will be handed parcels containing food, toiletries and other daily essentials.

And those behind the scheme say the foodbank will not only provide support in the short term, as those in need will be given guidance and help to get back on their feet permanently.

Ben Selfe, from the Salvation Army, said: “The foodbank isn’t about someone comes along with a voucher and they go on their way. It’s about getting involved in their lives, it’s part of a wider service to help people with deeper and greater needs.

“Quite an important part of the ethos of our foodbank is getting to know people and their needs so we can best serve them.”

In recent months all three churches have seen the need for food parcels rocket as people face redundancy and welfare reforms.

Liz Townson, from Gorleston Baptist, said demand had tripled.

“We used to have five or six people a day, now we have been up to 20 in a session,” she added. “That’s a lot of people coming in feeling very vulnerable.”

Michelle Gunstone, 37, used the foodbank at Gorleston Baptist last April after a problem with her benefits left her with no money for provisions.

The mum-of-three from Bradwell said: “The foodbank saved me really. We had no money coming in and didn’t know what to do about food and it was hard.

“Then Liz came along and she offered me a food parcel. It was a godsend.”

Mrs Gunstone is now back on her feet and has started volunteering at the foodbank.

“It’s very important, there’s a lot of people out there that have all their benefits cut or are ill and don’t get anything,” she added. “It’s like a lifesaver.”

The foodbank is being supported by Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Pasta Foods - which donate food for parcels - as well as the borough council, which is providing storage for donations.

■ Foodbank sessions are run at Gorleston Baptist on Mondays and Thursdays from 11am - 3pm; at the Salvation Army on Mondays and Fridays from 9.30am - 11.30am and Thursdays from 12pm - 2pm and at St Mary Magdalene on Tuesdays from 11.30am - 2.30pm.

Volunteers are also appealing for donations of tinned and packaged foods. For more details call 07786 952306.

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