Wednesday, October 31, 2012
There are 250 Foodbanks nationwide and here in East Sussex there are centres in Eastbourne, Hailsham and Hastings, with two more planned in Bexhill and Heathfield. The scheme is run by the Trussell Trust, an organisation working to combat poverty and exclusion. That they are a Christian charity should not put anyone off: in a climate of aggressive government policy against the needy, where there is a deliberate will to remove the safety net of the welfare state from millions, Foodbanks are providing an important lifeline for people in crisis.
Where a Foodbank is established, food is donated by individuals, businesses and local organisations. Collections are also made at supermarkets where shoppers are asked to buy an extra item or two. Volunteers then check that food is in date and pack it into boxes ready for people in need. Professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and Citizens’ Advice Bureau staff identify people in crisis and issue them with a voucher that can be redeemed for three days emergency food. Some Foodbanks also run a rural delivery service, which takes emergency foodboxes to clients living in rural areas who cannot afford to get to a centre.
Mostly, Foodbanks are being used by the working poor, the unemployed and the elderly who need to bridge the gap until the next payday, benefit or pension payment. And it’s not just about food: if Foodbanks keep people away from the clutches of so called ‘payday loan’ companies and their ensnaring rates of interest, they must be a good thing.
If you want to donate or volunteer, or are in need of help yourself, local Foodbanks can be found through www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects or at the following locations in East Sussex:
Rear of Link Shop
1 George Street
1 Cornfield Lane
The Hastings Centre