Community praised for rallying round foodbank services across Waveney
- Credit: Archant
Significant changes have been made to a service that has provided vital support and thousands of emergency food supplies to people in crisis.
The East Suffolk Foodbank - which had drop in centres across Lowestoft and the district - has announced its closure 'following a lack of successful grant funding.'
However the response of a number of key organisations and volunteers have been hailed by community leaders – after interim arrangements have been put in place to ensure that foodbank services are continuing.
A statement on the East Suffolk Foodbank website announced the changes to emergency food provision in the area, as trustees said: 'Since opening in 2012, East Suffolk Foodbank has provided thousands of emergency food supplies to local people in crisis and has always been grateful for the support and dedication of the community that has made this possible.
'It is with deep regret that we announce the parent charity of the foodbank, Signpost East Suffolk, will be ceasing operation following a lack of successful grant funding. In accordance with charity sector guidance, without the governance and support Signpost East Suffolk provide, the foodbank centres which have previously been open will be unable to continue operating as before.'
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Since last month interim measures have been put in place as emergency support is still provided through Access Community Trust, Salvation Army and the Waveney Foodbank. And hopes are high that a 'longer term' sustainable solution will be unveiled in conjunction with poverty charity, the Trussell Trust, in the New Year.
Praising the community response, Phil Aves, Lowestoft Rising change manager, said: 'With Signpost East Suffolk ceasing operation as the funding was not there, a number of meetings with key organisations have been held.
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'It was Access Community Trust who led the charge, supported by the Salvation Army, as everyone was determined to make sure that people in need in Lowestoft, Kessingland, Leiston, Saxmundham and other areas continued to have a supply of food parcels. People who volunteered for East Suffolk Foodbank transferred over to become Access Community Trust volunteers.
'From a Lowestoft Rising point of view, people moved heaven and earth - and 22 tonnes of food - to keep this going.'
Emma Ratzer, chief executive of Access Community Trust, said: 'It all got sorted within 48 hours as everyone rallied round to ensure the food parcels continue to go out.'
Praising Lowestoft Rising, Access Community Trust, the Salvation Army, Trussell Trust, Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council, Waveney MP Peter Aldous said the combined efforts of the organisations and volunteers had seen them move 'incredibly quickly to provide interim arrangements and keep the foodbank and its outlets open.'
He added: 'I would like to thank all these people involved. These interim arrangements are now in place while a longer term sustainable solution is worked up so that the foodbanks can continue to play the important role it has.'
Anyone with any questions about donating food or receiving help can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Food parcel services available
Anyone in need of emergency food during the interim period can access emergency food and support at the following places:
Marram Green Community Centre, Wednesday, 10am to noon, Hall Road, Kessingland, overseen by Access Community Trust.
Bridgeview Drop in Centre, Monday to Friday, 10am to noon, Commercial Road, Lowestoft, overseen by Access Community Trust.
The Workspace, Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 10am to noon, High Street, Lowestoft, overseen by Access Community Trust.
Lowestoft Citadel, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10am to noon, Beach Road, overseen by Salvation Army.
Leiston town council offices, Thursday 10am to noon, Main Street, Leiston, overseen by Access Community Trust.
Food provision in Halesworth and Beccles will be provided by Waveney Foodbank at St Luke's Church, Rigbourne Hill, Beccles, Monday 2pm to 4pm and Friday 3pm to 5pm; Sharel, Northgate, Beccles, Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm or St Mary's Church, Steeple End, Halesworth, Wednesday 10.30am to noon.
Food donations can still be dropped off to the following collection points – Tesco's at Beccles, Lowestoft and Saxmundham and all 10 East of England Co-ops in the local area.
The Salvation Army has run its own foodbank for a number of years, and with an established service in place the Corps in Lowestoft offered to help.
With the Lowestoft Citadel already running a food store at their premises, food parcels are being temporarily distributed from its Beach Road base between 10am and noon on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
A spokesman said: 'Due to the closure of the East Suffolk Foodbank, the Corps has agreed to temporarily take on the distribution of food parcels here. We will work with the other agencies. The main supply of food will be through the Trussell Trust and we will be working in conjunction with other service providers to ensure continuity of the food parcels over the coming weeks.'
Over the past five years, the East Suffolk Foodbank had helped thousands of people with the provision of three days nutritionally balanced food for families and individuals in crisis need.
With drop in centres across Lowestoft, Kessingland, Beccles and Halesworth, teams of volunteers were also based in the Southwold area, Samundham and Leiston.
Overseen through the parent charity of the foodbank, Signpost East Suffolk, two other projects – DreamworX Youth Project and Give and Take – are understood to have also closed last month.
Trustees for East Suffolk Foodbank said: 'We are pleased that meetings with a variety of different local charities and agencies have seen the community really pull together.
'We are currently exploring what can be done in the longer term with key local partners like Access Community Trust, Salvation Army and Lowestoft Rising, and we are very confident sustainable longer term foodbank provision will be sorted out.'
With the Trussell Trust working with the foodbank to ensure that the local need was met, Samantha Stapley, operations manager at the charity, said: 'The Trussell Trust will always do everything it can to work with a foodbank when a project's ability to continue supporting local people is at risk, and it is extremely rare for a foodbank in our network to have to cease operating.
'Meetings with a variety of different local charities and agencies have seen the community really pull together – we are currently exploring what can be done in the longer term with key local partners like Access Community Trust, Salvation Army and Lowestoft Rising, and we are very confident sustainable longer term foodbank provision will be in place as soon as possible.
'In the meantime, thanks to the dedication of local people, emergency support will be in place for people during this interim period.'