Foodbank storage space "at breaking point" as need rises by 50%
- Credit: Noah Vickers
The mid-Norfolk Foodbank has issued a plea to local landlords and businesses in the Dereham area to provide them with more storage space.
Compared with March to November last year, demand has risen by 50pc in the same period this year - with more than 46 tonnes of food given out in mid-Norfolk since the pandemic began.
The pandemic has also forced volunteers to socially distance, slowing down the distribution process.
The Trussell Trust-supported foodbank delivers donated food to centres in Dereham, Swaffham and Fakenham, from its current storage space in Toftwood.
Co-ordinator Dave Pearson said the need for foodbanks had definitely worsened over the nine years he’d been volunteering.
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“The financial crash [of 2008] and its after-effects,” said Mr Pearson, “followed by the introduction of universal credit and all the problems associated with that, increased the demand.”
Mr Pearson said he expected “another rise in use in 2021, as people are made redundant and businesses fail to survive". "There are lots of unknowns," he added.
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He said the food bank had plenty of stock and volunteers, but that storage space had reached “breaking point”.
Both Dereham and Breckland councils have given grants to the foodbank, and district councillor Harry Clarke said he hoped both would consider giving matched funding to help cover rental costs.
“I’ve contacted Breckland Council,” said Mr Clarke, “to see if they had vacant units available and they tried colleagues at the county council, but despite their best efforts - which I thank them for - nothing has turned up yet, so now this appeal is being launched.”
Mr Pearson said that they were looking for a unit not too far from Rashes Green or Dereham’s Wellspring Church, for 12 months, at ground floor level, and with nearby parking for a small van and a car or two.
"We will fit out any empty area with tables and shelving," he said.
“We can afford to pay some rent but not at full commercial rates. Clearly if we find somewhere suitable we hope the generosity we’ve had from different bodies can be extended further."
Anyone who thinks they can help the foodbank find a space should email email@example.com.
The space requirement is 1,000 sqft-1,200sqft.