Storehouse food bank in Sudbury launches Christmas campaign after reporting spike in demand across 2019
A Sudbury food bank has seen the average monthly demand for its services more than double year-on-year, as it launches its Christmas campaign for people in need.
Storehouse, a community programme run by Stour Valley Vineyard Church, is appealing for donations of festive food items, which the charity plans to distribute, in addition to its usual packages, to help struggling individuals and families to enjoy Christmas.
The campaign’s objective is to relieve anxiety and pressure at a time of year when many on or close to the poverty line face difficult financial choices.
The charity confirmed that, from January to October, the monthly average number of people it feeds had risen from 125 last year to 272 this year, with 40 per cent of those being children.
The latest figures show that, up to the end of October, it has so far fed 1,580 adults and 1,142 children this year, for a total of 2,722 people.
Vicky Leonard, Storehouse team leader, said the biggest increase in 2019 has been in the number of families referred to the food bank, rather than individuals.
“It’s down to the rising cost of living and the freeze on benefit payments and wages,” she told the Free Press. “I think families are being hit more because their outgoings are a lot higher.
“It’s the national picture. The level of state benefits just doesn’t cover the cost of living.
“Over 80 per cent of the people we see come in three times or less. Mainly, it’s a family crisis that has brought them in.
“They don’t have the financial resources, so an added expense pushes them over the edge.
“We want people to know they have got some Christmas extras and stop them getting into debt at this time of year.
“We’d like to give these extras to try to brighten up what is already a very challenging time.
“An important point is that we are primarily a sign-posting service. We don’t believe that just feeding people will help them.
“We sign-post them to other agencies that can help identify and address the underlying causes of their financial poverty. The aim is to help people become financially independent and help give their self-confidence back.”
The charity, which currently has a team of 26 volunteers, has suggested donations of items such as mince pies, Christmas puddings, Yule logs, sweets, crisps, chocolates, tinned ham and salmon, chutney and custard for its festive packages.
Donations can be made at collection points at Waitrose, Tesco Sainsbury’s and Ipswich Building Society in Sudbury, the East of England Co-operative stores in Long Melford, Great Cornard and Lavenham, and the Spar in Glemsford.
Alternatively, you can deliver food directly to the Storehouse at the Vineyard Centre in Tudor Road on Mondays, between 3pm and 5pm, or Fridays, from 11am to 1pm.
The deadline for Christmas donations is Tuesday, December 10, to allow time for packing and distribution before the day itself.
The Storehouse is also seeking financial donations, in order to help meet the scheme’s annual £16,500 running costs.
To learn more, go online to stourvalleyvineyard.org/storehouse.
More by this authorThomas Malina