Our readers’ donations help stock Norwich Foodbank this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 18:03 20 December 2013 | UPDATED: 11:30 21 December 2013

Norwich Foodbank project manager Grant Habershon with David Powles of Archant with the goods collected at the company's Norwich headquarters. Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich Foodbank project manager Grant Habershon with David Powles of Archant with the goods collected at the company's Norwich headquarters. Photo: Steve Adams

Generous readers are being urged to make their contribution to a merry Christmas for struggling families over the festive period.

MPs respond to foodbank debate

Norwich’s two MPs have explained their reasons for voting against a Labour party motion to reduce dependency on foodbanks.

The opposition day motion also included Labour policy proposals such as freezing energy prices and tax breaks for living wage employers, but was defeated 294 to 251.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said: “I think it’s deeply shameful that Labour makes a political football out of these issues. They called this debate for their own political ends.”

Ms Smith said she had been hoping to pay tribute to foodbank volunteers in the debate, though there had not been time, and added she had been chasing up benefit delay problems with the regional processing centre in Basildon.

She said: “It’s possible to take action that’s helpful. What’s not helpful is calling for a debate about living standards when Labour is not prepared to talk about fixing the economy.”

Norwich South MP Simon Wright said he was a strong supporter of foodbanks but he could not support the motion because of the additional Labour policies it contained, and its failure to address the country’s economic problems.

He added: “In Labour’s time in office, foodbanks increased tenfold.

“The link between foodbanks and welfare reform is not reflected in the reality of the situation.”

Time is running out for donations to our foodbank campaign to reach people in time for Christmas – but foodbank bosses say the steady stream of supplies will see the warehouse stocked well into the new year.

Staff and readers of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, which launched the foodbank campaign, yesterday handed over their own donation to the charity.

More than 10 trays of food were collected in just a week at Archant Norfolk’s Prospect House headquarters, all of which will go towards feeding needy people this Christmas.

Project manager Grant Habershon said the response to the campaign had been “fantastic”.

“Our volunteers have opened the warehouse another day the past two weeks to deal with all the donations – it’s been that busy,” he said.

“They packed 150 boxes and them got them out to the distribution centres, so that food will be there for people when they need it.

“We now have enough so that everybody who needs a box over Christmas will have Christmas cake or a selection box for children.”

Mr Habershon urged people to continue to donate into the new year, to ensure the foodbank collects the estimated 75 tonnes it will need to feed its expected demand of 10,000 people in 2014.

He added: “It’s incredible the amount of goodwill that people have towards us, so we hope that they will remember us and come back when it gets to March and April too.

“It’s great to see the warehouse full, but it’s even better to see the impact when the food is given out to people.”

Donations to the foodbank have been pouring in from schools, churches and workplaces across the city, all of which have backed our appeal to make sure that no one has to go hungry this Christmas.

Donations can be made to any one of the nine foodbanks across Norfolk, Fenland and Waveney, using the contact details on this page.

The foodbanks then distribute it in nutritionally-balanced boxes designed for individuals, couples or families, to see them through a short-term crisis. Foodbank clients must be referred by qualified care agencies, who then work to solve the longer-term issues in their lives.

Many are victims of benefit delays, changes or sanctions, though sudden illness, redundancy or bereavement can also plunge families into a crisis where they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

When it launched in November 2010, Norwich Foodbank, the first run by national charity the Trussell Trust in Norfolk, fed 33 people from two distribution centres in its first month. It now has 11 distribution centres and expects to have fed 8,000 people by the end of this year.

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