You can help stop families going hungry this Christmas
- Credit: IAN BURT
Your help is needed to ensure hundreds of people don't go hungry this Christmas and New Year.
That's the message today as the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News team up with the East of England Co-Op to launch the 2014 Foodbank Appeal.
This time last year thousands of readers generously handed over goodies to foodbanks across Norfolk, Waveney and Fenland so they could be distributed to people facing hardship. In Norwich alone, the city's foodbank helped 1,049 people, including 370 children. And 12 months later the support that foodbanks provide is still desperately needed – which is why we are today sounding the clarion call once more.
We are asking you to take a look at the foodbank shopping list and donate whatever you can to your nearest centre. In particular, foodbanks are requesting special Christmas treats so the people they can help receive something extra special for the festive period.
Over the next 10 days we will profile the people behind the many foodbanks in our region, the support they give and the people they do.
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The East of England Co-Op Foodbank Appeal will then culminate in a special celebrity trolley dash challenge between boxer Anthony Ogogo and Canaries legend Darren Eadie at the Co-Op in Long Stratton.
Grant Habershon, project manager at Norwich Foodbank, the largest of our region's foodbanks, said even a small donation – picking up an extra item in the weekly shop – had the power to make a difference to the thousands of adults and children in crisis.
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'The local people who come to us are those who have fallen through the safety net, for whatever reason that may be. Our emergency food boxes give them the urgent help they need while support agencies sort out their problems. All the people foodbanks help have been referred there by trained professionals – they cannot simply turn up to claim food.
'They are people who may have suffered a sudden bereavement, illness or redundancy, or whose benefits have been changed or delayed – but all of them are in crisis.'
Foodbanks work with partners including the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Probation Service and Norfolk County Council, and charities including Age UK or Leeway, who identify people in desperate need and refer them to the foodbank.
By taking away their most pressing concern – the need for food – they aim to free up care agencies to find solutions to other problems.
Nigel Pickover, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, said: 'Foodbanks are about people working together to help those less fortunate than themselves. Many people and families are facing times when they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Your donation can be the difference between a family having food on the table on Christmas Day, or going hungry.'
This year, the Norwich Foodbank wants to ensure every family that comes to them in December receives a selection box for each child plus items such as a Christmas cake, mince pies, tinned ham, Christmas pudding and a box of biscuits.
Mr Habershon added: 'I heard about a mum who was overjoyed when she saw a packet of jelly that had been added to her family box as her daughter hadn't had it for so long. When we think of that, we know a special Christmas treat will bring a little joy to children and adults going through a tough time this December.'
Joanna Stevenson, regional development officer of the Trussell Trust, East of England, said: 'Christmas should be a time of eager anticipation, joy and plenty.
'However, for those who find themselves in financial crisis it can be the complete opposite. Imagine not being able to buy gifts for children and family and not being able to provide the usual festive food and treats.'
East of England Co-Op is hosting the trolley dash challenge on Sunday, November 23.
Have you used a foodbank? Contact David Bale on 01603 772427 or email email@example.com
If you donate to one of our foodbanks, send us a picture either to firstname.lastname@example.org or via @edp24 or @eveningnews on Twitter.