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Award-winning foodbank in plea for help of a new ‘business angel’

Sudbury Storehouse foodbank presented with Working Together Award - left to right Andrea Pittock, Andrew Stewart-Darling, Sarah Stamp, Rita Pennington ANL-160226-210237001
Sudbury Storehouse foodbank presented with Working Together Award - left to right Andrea Pittock, Andrew Stewart-Darling, Sarah Stamp, Rita Pennington ANL-160226-210237001

Sudbury’s foodbank, which this week won a £3,500 award for its outstanding work, desperately needs new warehouse space to carry on helping those in need.

Stour Valley Vineyard Church, which runs Storehouse Foodbank, has been given a Working Together Award by Suffolk Community Foundation.

It recognises exceptional outcomes achieved by co-operating with organisations like social services, CAB, housing trusts, churches and voluntary groups.

The accolade came as the foodbank that hands out hundreds of emergency food bags every year to people in crisis launched an urgent appeal for help,

It also coincides with the news that demand for its services more than doubled last year.

Storehouse currently keeps its donated food in a rented warehouse on Chilton industrial estate before distributing it from a drop-in at the Christopher Centre in Sudbury.

“We have to move out of the warehouse in August because the owner needs it back,” said Vineyard Church senior pastor Andrew Stewart-Darling.

Our service would be under threat if we can’t find anywhere else. We urgently need another of what we call our ‘business angels’.”

He said everyone involved in Storehouse felt humbled and honoured to receive the Working Together Award. The money will go towards rental costs.

“The award is a celebration of eight years of hard work, and the hundreds of families we have helped,” he said.

“Through a dedicated team of volunteers from the church, support from ‘business angels’ and local groups, we’re able to see many families in crisis walk out two inches taller from when we first meet them. This is reward in itself.

“The Working Together Award is timely because Storehouse Foodbank needs continual support with its overheads and running costs.

“We are finding our overheads are growing and growing. Our costs including rent are around £11,500 a year.

“If anyone is able to financially support our work in the community, we’d really love to hear from them.

“Our community continues to be hugely generous with food donations, but the costs for the food bank’s sustainability equally needs supporting. Every £10 really does help.

“But we also now have another urgent need. We desperately require new premises for food storage as well as office space, if possible.

“We have been hugely grateful to a local business for our current warehouse space, but, sadly, that will no longer be available to us very soon.

“So we’d love to hear from another local business who might be able to partner with us. “The clock is ticking and we have to find a space before the end of August.”

Storehouse is looking for at least 3,000 sq ft of ground floor space with vehicle access for food storage. Additional office space would be helpful, but not essential.

They also need a minimum two year lease, but hope for longer if possible.

The foodbank began in 2007 after the church was called by youth social services asking for help for a young homeless person sleeping rough.

Since then it has grown steadily as more and more people face the trauma of being unable to feed themselves and their families.

It gave out 850 food bags in the year ending October 2015, and the monthly average at the end of last year was 90-plus.

The latest figures show Storehouse usage in 2015 was up 62 percent on the previous year.

At the moment all its costs are paid by the Vineyard Church.

Through a team of volunteers and weekly drop-ins, it provides not only emergency food but a listening ear and a bridge to receiving further help.

One of those other ways is with CAP Money, a free three-week course to help people manage their finances without fear. It also has plans to expand its services.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of the food bank to our town and surrounding areas at this time,” said Mr Stewart-Darling.

“So we are hoping that a business will be able to help us quickly. Meanwhile, thank you Sudbury. You are amazing.”

Working Together Awards are financed by Suffolk County Council and managed by Suffolk Community Foundation.

They offer awards of up to £10,000 to charities, community groups and not-for-profit organisations working in the county.

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