Great Yarmouth food bank is coping well as another faces closure

Great Yarmouth Food Bank has seen a 90pc increase in use since Universal Credit was introduced in Ap

The Salvation Army has said they are coping well despite more people using their food bank service since before the start of the pandemic. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

A Great Yarmouth food bank has said it is coping well with helping families as "consistently high" numbers of people continue to use it.

The Salvation Army on Tolhouse Street provides free parcels to around 50 families each week on average, but during the Christmas period, the number was around 74 families.

News that the service continues to function well comes as another food bank in the town run by Mandalay Wellbeing faces the possibility of being scrapped due to rising costs and demand.

The Salvation Army in Great Yarmouth has been awarded a grant of almost £13,000 for coronavirus reli

Captain Marie Burr thanked the "amazing" people of Great Yarmouth for their donations to The Salvation Army's food bank. - Credit: Archant

Captain Marie Burr, commanding officer of The Salvation Army in Great Yarmouth, said: "We have consistently high numbers of people using our food bank service.

"At Christmas, it was even higher.

"It's now at levels of about 50 households a week."

Capt Burr said current rates are up to 50pc lower than they were during lockdowns.

Most Read

However, she said that many new people are relying on the service after losing their jobs during the pandemic.

When asked about how their food supply is doing, Capt Burr said: "We've got lots of food.

"We're fortunate that so many people, local charities and businesses keep donating."

Jazmine and Alex, her boyfriend, who delivered the gifts to The Salvation Army’s Great Yarmouth Church recently.

Jazmine Edwards and her boyfriend, Alex, donated Christmas gifts to The Salvation Army’s Great Yarmouth Church in December. - Credit: The Salvation Army

Capt Burr said The Salvation Army only offer food bank services to people who have been referred either by other organisations or by visiting the premises in Great Yarmouth. 

She added "the people of Great Yarmouth are amazing" for their continued support.

"We appreciate everyone who has donated to us."

"We delivered food and present to 790 families over Christmas. All of it was donated by the amazing people of Great Yarmouth."

Trevor Saunders next to empty shelves.

Empty shelves: Trevor Saunders from Mandalay Wellbeing CIC was able to assist 40 people before running out of food. - Credit: James Weeds

On Thursday, another food bank service in town - held by Mandalay Wellbeing - announced they had run out of food and the future of their service was uncertain.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) said the demand for people accessing food banks is "relatively stable".

A GYBC spokesperson said: "We have not seen an increase in referrals to or from the borough council for people wanting food.

"During the pandemic - working with Norfolk County Council - the borough council has been proactively contacting households where the impact of Covid is an issue to offer support in terms of hardship funding to help with household expenses including food and energy.

"Since the start of the pandemic, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has been working closely with the independent food bank agencies to ensure that their supply chain continues to be supported.

"In the early days of the public health crisis, this included seeking and receiving donated food items in bulk from the Great Yarmouth’s business sector which was much appreciated.

"Latterly, supported by Norfolk County Council, the borough council has been able to directly grant fund food provisions with each community-run food bank/hot meal agency that we are working with.

"This includes Mandalay CIC.

"The funding of food banks has been made possible under the Department of Work & Pension’s Household Support Fund allocated by Norfolk County Council. 

"We are grateful to our food agency partners for the continued support they give households facing financial pressures.

"In addition, the borough council has recently funded the opening of the Shrublands Community Foodclub in Gorleston which provides food-related support and a community-operated food store where residents can purchase discounted quality food provisions.

"A second community food store is planned for later this year to be opened in Great Yarmouth."

The foodclub inside.

The Shrublands Community Foodclub operates on a point system, helping customers manage their budgets easier. - Credit: James Weeds

Julie Woods, manager of Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre Charitable Trust  and who oversees Shrublands Community Foodclub, said: "The foodclub is the next step from a food bank.

"We have over 50 households who have joined up and they spend money on whatever it is that they need."

The foodclub operates on a point system, which members can purchase and then exchange for goods on offer in the store.

"It's a case of trying to get people's money to go a bit further," Ms Woods said.

The contact for the Great Yarmouth Community Hub is earlyhelphub@great-yarmouth.gov.uk.

GYBC's Community Helpline telephone number is 0808 196 2238.

Further information on ‘Support for residents impacted by Covid’ can also be found at: https://www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/coronavirus