Volunteers in town launch campaign to ensure no child goes hungry this Christmas

Volunteers in Downham Market have launched a campaign to ensure that no children in and around the t

Volunteers in Downham Market have launched a campaign to ensure that no children in and around the town go hungry this Christmas. Picture: Frances Rayner - Credit: Archant

Volunteers have coordinated a project to ensure that no children will go hungry in and around their town this Christmas.

No child goes hungry for Christmas campaign poster. Picture: Frances Rayner

No child goes hungry for Christmas campaign poster. Picture: Frances Rayner - Credit: Archant

Frances Rayner, Alex Coates, from the Downham Market Food Bank, and Anna Foster, from the Swan Youth Project, are among those leading the campaign to ensure support is available for children and their families during the festive period.

The team are currently working with local schools to identify children who are in need and are looking for food donations from people and businesses in the community.

Ms Coates, who runs the food bank at Eternity Church with a team of volunteers, said: “Whilst the government’s decision to support children during this holiday period is very positive, we recognise that there are a lot of families who will not be able to take advantage of this scheme but will be equally in need.

“The foodbank will be open as normal, but we want to help to coordinate this additional piece of work to ensure that as many children and their families are reached as possible.”

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The group has expressed that this campaign is not a one off and will “remain essential during all school holiday periods going forward,” as families feel the impact of the pandemic.

Local mum Harriet Tunnicliff, who has volunteered her support, said they want to ensure people come forward and feel confident they will not be judged.

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She added: “The list of circumstances as to why help is needed are endless, but we ask that anyone who has children in their household and is concerned about being able to provide three meals a day through the long Christmas break come forward.”

And the Swan Youth Project on Paradise Road is offering their premises as a collection point for families this December.

Manager Ms Foster said: “There is a great need in the area for this piece of work during the Christmas break and I hope that we can get referrals in from schools as well as individual families.

“The service will be totally confidential, and the friendly team of volunteers will always be non-judgemental.”

Families can get in contact with Ms Foster on Anna@swanyouthproject.org or 01366 386259 and Ms Coates on office@eternitydownham.co.uk or 01366 384474.

The group said it would appreciate referrals by November 30.

They aim to have food parcels ready on December 18 with a second parcel available on December 23. Volunteers will also be delivering parcels where families are unable to get into town.

Mrs Rayner said: “We have seen some very generous people within our community supporting with food aid in recent months, and we would like to appeal to individuals and businesses to help ensure we have the food we need.

“Pledges of support would really boost supplies so it would be great to hear from any local suppliers of fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables and bread and also any other business’s in town who feel this is a worthwhile cause and want to get involved in.

“We are not able to take cash donations but would appreciate Morrisons or Tesco vouchers so that our volunteer team can go and shop for the items required.”

“General public donations are very welcome and can be delivered to Eternity Church on Tuesday, December 15 between 9am and 3pm or the Swan Youth Project on December 16 and 17 between 9am and 4pm.”

The volunteers have put together a list of the items required, which include:

Store cupboard items - Breakfast cereal, multi pack of crisps, fruit juice, squash, pasta sauce, baked beans, hot dog sausages, toilet roll, long life milk, jam, chocolate spread, spaghetti hoops, biscuits

Fresh items - Bread, cheese, pack of ham, fruit – apples, oranges, bananas, pears, vegetables – cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, yoghurts, butter or margarine, milk.

Hygeine items - deodorant, shower gel and toothpaste.

They ask that fresh items be delivered on December 17 and 22.

Those wanting to offer support through donations can contact office@eternitydownham.co.uk

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