'We're constantly adapting' - Vicar looks back on difficult year

Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, has been awarded a British E

Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Diocese of Norwich. - Credit: Archant

A vicar leading a food bank during the coronavirus pandemic has been looking back on the year.

The Rev Matthew Price, 42, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston,  runs the charity out of the church hall since mid-March.

In October, he was honoured in the Queen's birthday list with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community during the pandemic.

Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, sorting food parcels during

Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, sorting food parcels during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Diocese of Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Mr Price said: "I guess, looking back on the year, the one shining light has been they way the community has pulled together, the generosity of individuals and companies.

"The harder thing has been the constant changes, the new guidelines, the new restrictions. It feels like we've been in a constant wave of adapting.

"There was a lot of adrenaline keeping everybody going from mid-March into summer. Since September it's felt much harder, more of a slog. I'm struck by the chronic need we've encountered, particularly in Autumn.


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"The economic impact has been significant, families who have lost their jobs, who have not used food banks before, but are unable to feed their kids, families having to make that dreadful decision to feed the children or keep the house warm.

"Encountering that kind of need has been one of the harder things.

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"It drains you, that kind of level of need in the area."

Hundreds of people have been supported by the emergency foodbank service in Great Yarmouth. Picture:

Hundreds of people have been supported by the emergency foodbank service in Great Yarmouth. Picture: The Rev Matthew Price - Credit: Archant

As the Covid-19 crisis unfolded, the vicar steered the existing food bank, which his church has been part of for many years, into forming the new Great Yarmouth Foodbank Emergency Delivery Service (GYFEDS).

In March, Great Yarmouth Borough Council approached him to form a partnership.

Mr Price said: "One great thing is the partnership that has developed between the local authority and the voluntary sector. I'm grateful to the borough council for that."

To lift his spirits, the vicar takes walks to Gorleston's seafront.

"I am grateful I live by the sea. Even on the darkest days I walk to the seafront, and the constantly changing nature of the seafront lifts the spirits.

He added: "As a Christian, I have a God who knew what it was like to struggle."

The future is worrying, though.

"It feels like the next couple of months are going to be harder than March. I feel slightly nervous about what's next. All we can do is keep stocking up the food bank," he said.



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