Norfolk churches back Foodbank Appeal by donating food in their area
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014
The EDP and Evening News have teamed up with the East of England Co-op to support its annual Foodbank Appeal and every day this week we are profiling the region's foodbanks. Today LUCY CLAPHAM goes behind the scenes in Great Yarmouth.
There is not just one team behind Great Yarmouth Foodbank.
The charitable service is run by a trio of the borough's churches, who each have their own army of volunteers to run drop in sessions for those in need.
Great Yarmouth Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church in Gorleston have been handing out food parcels individually for many months, but teamed up earlier this year to ensure no one in the borough went hungry.
Through weekly drop-in sessions at each of the three churches, vulnerable visitors are handed parcels with food, toiletries and other daily essentials.
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But the foodbank is not only about providing support in the short term, as those in need are also offered guidance and help to get back on their feet permanently.
Community groups, such as the Norfolk Recovery Partnership and Stonham Housing, make regular visits to sessions so visitors can be referred to expert help, and all the churches offer more than just crisis parcels to those in need.
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Alan Smith, from the Salvation Army, which handed out 91 food parcels last month, said: 'Although we give out the food parcels, we have also got other facilities. We can do people's laundry and washing if they're homeless or have got no income coming it at that point in time.
'There's always tea, coffee and toast available and on Thursdays we do sandwiches and toasties and the Gorleston churches do similar.'
He added: 'It's about trying to meet people's needs and find out, if they need a food parcel, what's caused it and if we can help them personally or whether we can refer them to somebody else.'
While many of Norfolk's foodbanks are affiliated to the Trussell Trust, which helps communities across the UK set up the much-needed service, the three churches decided to pool their knowledge and operate independently.
Volunteers at the Salvation Army had plenty of experience, as the church has been handing out food parcels for more than 10 years, which they combined with helpers from Gorleston Baptist and St Mary Magdalene, who had been running sessions individually for several months. Great Yarmouth Borough Council happily stepped in to support the scheme, by providing storage for bulkier donations and publicising the service for free.
And Mr Smith said joining forces had been a great push for the foodbank, which has helped hundreds of people since it launched in February.
'We meet every month to look at what's going on and how best we can improve it,' he added. 'The partnership is working, the fact we can link up means we can aid individuals.'
The foodbank works under a referral scheme, with vouchers handed to those in need to claim a parcel. Different packages are put together for people with cooking facilities, as well as those without.
And Mr Smith said those turning to the foodbank for help – whether a family in crisis or someone without a home – need not be embarrassed about coming to a drop-in session.
He said: 'Some people that we have had turn up do feel ashamed but we're all about trying to put people at ease.'
• Click here to find out more about the Foodbank Appeal.
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