Huge hike in demand continues for Thanet food bank as those losing jobs after furlough seek help

Thanet Food Link volunteers Elaine McCarthy and Audrey and Neil Emmett

The ending of the covid furlough scheme and increasing redundancies have led to another six-fold hike in demand at a Cliftonville food bank.

Thanet Food Link, based at St Paul’s Church in Northdown Road, fed 1,029 people in July compared to 170 people for the same period last year.

Some 451 vouchers were redeemed – compared to 113 last year – and 864 food parcels were distributed – up from last year’s 161 for July.

In addition to this, some 451 fresh produce bags – provided by Ramsgate Town Council – were also distributed.

Thanet Food Link operates from St Paul’s Church in Cliftonville every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10.30am – 12 noon. People need to bring a voucher (now obtainable from St Paul’s Church if you can’t get one elsewhere) to obtain a food parcel and distribution is by minimal personal contact.

The huge hike in demand has been consistent throughout the pandemic and can only be sustained thanks to generous donations from the public and organisations such as Morrisons, Rotary groups and Ramsgate Town Council – although the RTC scheme ended on July 31.

Thanet Food Link chairperson Debbie Ellisdon said: “The demand is still there. A lot of people are struggling. Lots of people are coming to the end of furlough and are losing their jobs. Other companies are not paying the full amount so people are trying to manage on less money.

“We have also seen a lot more of the Eastern European community who would have been field working.

“We are helping a huge mix of people. There are many who would normally be working, so we wouldn’t usually see them, and it is difficult for them. Some of them feel embarrassed but they need the help.

“We have been lucky with so many donations and Ramsgate Town Council was tremendous.”

Thanet Food Link has around 20 volunteers and keeps that number capped so social distancing can be properly practised. Much of the warehousing is also done by family groups in a bit to keep covid secure.

Debbie says she hopes to see demand fall this month, however this will be dependent on continued relaxations – including those that were postponed on August 1 – and excludes a second wave of the virus.

Donations can be made to the warehouse in Westwood Business Park, Strasbourg St, Margate CT9 4JJ behind B&Q. There is a box for donations if the warehouse is closed. Other collection outlets in supermarkets are slowly reopening or you can drop food off at St Paul’s during the  distribution times.

The pandemic has resulted in huge pressures on all the isle’s foodbanks.

Ramsgate Town Council had been forking out £10,000 per month to keep a vital food hub and distribution network running despite receiving no official funding towards its work.

The Gap Project- Broadstairs, Queens Road, Broadstairs

The Gap Project says during lockdown they were delivering 20-25 food parcels a day and there is still an urgent need. Previously they were administering food parcels at a figure of around 30 per week.

They also run a  drop-in centre for the homeless. This is open twice a week and usually sees 15-20 foodbags dispensed.

Tues and Fri – 2pm – 4pm

Margate Independent Foodbank, Union Church, Union Street, Margate

Set up by John Finnegan and Darry De La Soul the service is operated at Union Church in Margate.

The duo previously worked for the provision based at  St Gregorys Catholic Church which saw them delivering 140 food parcels a week

Last month artist Twinkle Troughton raised £838 through an arts sale in her front garden to help support the provision.

Tues,  Thurs 10.15am – 1pm. mifoodbank@aol.com

GRASS Voucher Scheme

The GRASS Voucher Scheme is designed to help individuals and families affected by Covid-19 and living in the Cliftonville West area. Organised by GRASS, the scheme seeks to provide an Aldi supermarket voucher for people struggling in the current economic climate – specifically it is for those who have slipped through the net and are unable to access aid or grant support provided by the Government.

The voucher enables customers to purchase food and household items to the value of £25 per week – meaning essential groceries can be purchased according to specific need. Applicants are means-tested and there is provision for around 20 applicants per week. Contact  077 6191 6654 or visit grasscliftonville.org

Salvation Army – 167 High Street, Ramsgate

Organiser Carl Whitewood says the amount of collections has doubled since last year.

Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am – noon

Email carl.whitewood@salvationarmy.org.uk

Call: 07900 49 73 26

Newington Big Local

Six volunteers are delivering food bags for £5.

The Community Food Club delivers food and provisions to households across Newington, Margate, Ramsgate and Westgate.

The club was in the planning stage before the pandemic but the lockdown prompted the group to launch earlier than planned with the aim of providing local people with access to healthy, affordable food.

The club not only addresses food poverty in the area but also reduces food waste through working with national food charity Fareshare.

As well as supporting people in Newington the food club has also been delivering to households in Margate, Ramsgate and Westgate. Members collect food that is close to its sell by date, from Tesco’s and Asda, and through the Fareshare Go programme. The food packages are offered at low price.

For more information on any of these activities contact Cara at cara@renewington.com or visit the Facebook Page @NewingtonBigLocal

Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet

The kitchen had been distributing food parcels and working with other organisations. It is now running a social supermarket.

This is a scheme for affordable food goods.

It runs at Drapers Mills School in Margate between 10am and 3pm on week days. People can go along and register and then  start to shop.