Yarmouth Foodbank feeds 450 in three weeks
The Great Yarmouth Foodbank Emergency Delivery Service has delivered emergency food parcels to more than 450 people in its first three weeks of operation.
The service, which was the brain-child of Liz Townson of Gorleston Baptist Church, was set up in response to the Covid-19 crisis and to complement the foodbank’s existing provision which operates by a voucher-referral system out of Great Yarmouth Salvation Army and St Mary Magdalene Church, Gorleston as well as the Baptist Church.
Anna Heydon of Imagine Norfolk Together in Great Yarmouth, which seeks to coordinate the community provision of churches in the borough, explains, “We realised early on that our existing system would not adequately meet the needs of the current crisis, especially if people were unable to leave them homes. So, for people who are forced to self-isolate and are not able to source food in any other way, we are offering a self-referral delivery service.”
People in need of the service call a dedicated phone line, are quickly assessed against the foodbank’s criteria, and then receive a delivery of a seven-day emergency food parcel.
Since the service began on March 16, a total of 190 deliveries have been made, serving 283 adults and 167 children. The food delivery project has received support from the Norfolk Community Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund, as well as the Mercers’ Fund and very many donations of food and money from local people.
One elderly resident who was self-isolating and received a parcel told the call operator that after the delivery driver had left, she had a “little cry” because she was so overwhelmed by the generosity of the food parcel. The resident said, “It was all more than I would normally buy for myself at Christmas and will last me for a good while. I’ve just enjoyed a ham sandwich!”
Rev Matthew Price, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Gorleston which is acting as one of food depots for the new service said, “It’s been wonderful to see the community response to the current crisis. There is now a team of 80 volunteers acting as call handlers, shoppers, food parcel packers and delivery drivers. We’ve also been really touched by the donations of food and money we have received from both individuals and businesses.
“It is often the vulnerable who are hit hardest by a crisis like this, and we are delighted to be working in close partnership with both Great Yarmouth Borough Council and the other churches in the borough in seeking to meet some of their most pressing needs.”
Anyone who is self-isolating and unable to get food in any other way can contact the delivery helpline on 07907 616566.
In addition to the emergency delivery service, the usual foodbank distribution times at the Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church are continuing to operate for those with vouchers. Clients are requested to observe strict social distancing measures when they attend. Further details can be found on the website at www.greatyarmouthfoodbank.co.uk .
Project title: Great Yarmouth Foodbank Emergency Delivery Service
Who runs the project: Liz Townson, Anna Heydon, Matthew and Anna Price
Catchment area: Borough of Great Yarmouth - NR29, NR30, NR31
Address of project base: HQ of Delivery Service is St Mary Magdalene Church Hall, Fastolff Avenue, Magdalen Square, Gorleston NR31 7BZ
Public contact details: Delivery helpline on 07907 616566. For general enquiries or if you want to deliver, call 01493 494248 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Current needs: Volunteer packers, drivers and shoppers are always welcome. Contact details as above. Alternatively volunteers can sign up here: https://forms.gle/pZHNiSiwTA4CdUw47
What you can offer other projects: Agencies who identify self-isolators who need food parcel delivery should be in touch via the helpline.
Pray for sustaining and protection on the volunteer team
Give thanks for the amazing provision of food and funds to date. Please pray that would continue
Pray for enough volunteers - that others would become available as some need to self-isolate
Pray for those that receive the parcels that they would see them as a sign of the love and hope available in the gospel.
Pray for wisdom for those manning the calls as they seek to discern those in genuine need, and point others to alternative avenues where appropriate.
Give thanks for the close partnerships between churches in the borough and the Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and pray protection on those relationships.
Pray for plans going forward - particularly for the Easter weekend - and for dealing with the demand, which seems to fluctuate daily.
The photos above are of St Mary Magdalene church hall, now operating as a foodbank depot.