Foodbank services to be expanded in Southwold, Reydon and surrounding villages
- Credit: News
Foodbank services are to be expanded in Southwold, Reydon and surrounding villages in a bid to reach the area's most vulnerable residents.
East Suffolk Foodbank is launching a home delivery service in the area this month so that people in hardship can access its emergency food parcels without facing a costly journey to the charity's drop-in sessions in Lowestoft, Beccles or Halesworth.
The scheme is being led by local churches under the umbrella Christians Together and is being co-ordinated on their behalf by the Rev Richard Henderson, vicar of Reydon.
A team of 17 volunteers has already signed up to carry out the home deliveries.
The new service will cover Southwold, Reydon, Wangford, South Cove, Blythburgh, Sotherton, Walberswick and Uggeshall.
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It will be launched during a special food collection event outside the United Reformed Church in Southwold on Saturday, June 21 between 9am and 1pm.
Mr Henderson said poverty was often a hidden problem in rural communities and, although the area was perceived as wealthy, local residents could face problems like anyone else.
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'I don't think this lovely part of the world is immune to hardship,' he said. 'We have got council estates and social housing in Reydon.
'I have been here five years and I have seen people in need in different ways in the community.
'We are not talking huge numbers but the need is here.'
East Suffolk Foodbank was launched in August 2012 under the name Lowestoft Foodbank and now covers a large area from Lowestoft to Beccles, Halesworth and Saxmundham.
During the last two years, the charity has been working to keep up with demand and is now focusing on improving access in rural areas.
Food collections have been taking place in the Southwold and Reydon area for some time but, until now, people could only receive a food parcel from one of the charity's drop-in sessions.
All donations are taken back to a central warehouse in Lowestoft, where a team of volunteers makes up the food boxes.
In future, a supply of boxes will be delivered back to Reydon and stored for local volunteers to distribute as needed.
Philip Riley, East Suffolk Foodbank project manager, said: 'People have been coming to Beccles to collect food. If you have not got enough money to buy food you can't afford to get to Beccles.
'To deliver to this area from Lowestoft is a 30 mile round trip but if we have got a supply of food here it can be delivered quickly and conveniently by people who know the community.'
Since April 2013, 69 people have been helped by East Suffolk Foodbank in Southwold, Reydon and surrounding villages compared to 14 between August 2012 and April 2013.
Demand for the service has risen steadily across east Suffolk as people become more aware of it.
Last year the charity helped an average of 282 people per month compared to 79 per month in the previous year.
Referrals in the first part of this year are already 25pc up on the same period last year.
Mr Riley said demand was now in danger of outstripping supply.
He said: 'The last time I looked there were 32 different reasons that people were referred to us. They included fires, benefit changes and delays, thefts, family break ups and flooding.
'It may look like things are improving in the economy but there will always be issues in poor areas of the community.'
People in need of a food parcel must be issued with a voucher by an authorised person.
Currently more than 85 different organisations across east Suffolk can provide vouchers.
In Southwold, Reydon and surrounding villages, vouchers are issued to parents with children under five at the children's centre in Reydon and by organisations such as social services and housing associations.
East Suffolk Foodbank is hoping to increase the number of places that can issue vouchers in rural areas in the coming months so that people who are not already in contact with outside agencies can receive help. more easily.
This could include doctors surgeries, pharmacies, health visitors, schools and the Voluntary Help Centre in Soutwold.
? Visit www.eastsuffolk.foodbank.org.uk for more information.