Shoreham Foodbank ‘blessed’ with Christmas donations as demand rises

Volunteers at the Shoreham Foodbank collection point at The Co-Op in Ham Road
Volunteers at the Shoreham Foodbank collection point at The Co-Op in Ham Road

Generous residents have ensured the Shoreham Foodbank received more donations than ever this Christmas.

Volunteers made their final collections of items a week before Christmas Day.

READ MORE: Volunteers challenge stigma as foodbank use in Shoreham rises

Paul Comber, project manager for the Shoreham Foodbank, said: “We are blessed with people who are giving.

“Some people give five tins in a bag, some people give crates and crates.”

He said the team had received hundreds of enquiries about how people could donate or volunteer their time, especially since the organisation became more active on social media.

He said: “When we started in 2013, foodbanks were not on many people’s radar and the government was denying the need for them.

“Slowly over the years people have become aware, particularly this year.”

He said demand at the foodbank in Shoreham, which operates from the Shoreham Free Church in Buckingham Road every Tuesday and Friday from 10am to midday, was on the increase annually.

While 1,042 people accessed the foodbank in 2015/16, this number rose to 1,110 in 2016/17 and to 1,147 in 2017/18.

A total of 1,023 people have accessed the foodbank so far this year – but with time still to go until the end of the financial year in March, Mr Comber said he believed the total would exceed last year’s, continuing what he said was ‘a general upward trend in foodbank usage’.

He said December had been a particularly busy month.

At a recent session, 18 food vouchers were exchanged for food packages – which could have been used to feed as many as 40 people, Mr Comber said.

Like other Trussel Trust Foodbanks, the organisation works by accepting vouchers which are given to people in need by doctors’ surgeries, citizens advice and schools.

On the reasons why people come to require help from the foodbank, Mr Comber said: “For us its usually low income, or people with long term health issues.

“The system doesn’t seem to understand that some people are unable to work. We hear tragic stories.”

He added that there was also already a lot of conversations going on with clients about Universal Credit, even though it is yet to be rolled out fully in Adur.

Some foodbank clients were left ‘near tears’ after accepting packages, Mr Comber said.

“It takes a lot just to come across the threshold,” he said. “A lot of courage. Desperation drives them.”

He thanked the public for their generosity and the foodbank’s 25 ‘brilliant’ volunteers for all their time and effort.

“They are super people, they all love doing it and they come along rain or shine,” he said. “They are just excellent.”

SEE MORE: Volunteers challenge stigma as foodbank use in Shoreham rises

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