Those of us who have been involved in the village food bank held a virtual Zoom meeting last month to plan for the difficult winter months ahead.
Since we established the food bank on an informal basis in the late Spring, we have consistently delivered food and other items to those who need support in our community. Nearly all of our clients have children and we therefore probably help up to 50 persons each week.
We have been very moved by the support of the village community in terms of food and monetary donations over recent months. Some people come to see us each week and we are grateful for every donation , however large or small.
We have developed links with Drayton Parish and some of our volunteers are from there, and there Parish Council takes a close interest in our work. In addition the support of Hambridge Village Stores every week through a " food donation box" has been wonderful — they are also doing a reverse advent calendar for us to raise funds.
In our village , I must really think the staff at One Stop who regularly donate many items for us to distribute. We are trying to see if we can develop links with other local businesses too. A food purchase donation of £1,000 from the Langport Mason Lodge has been hugely helpful over the summer. Also, we were so grateful to a number of people in recent times who gave their home grown fruit and vegetables so fresh and healthy items could always be supplied to our clients.
We have now formed two " bubbles" for our volunteers as a Wednesday and Saturday team. We also liaise closely with Langport Carers ( Rev Jess Pitman from there has been a great support to us ) and I am now plugged into the South Somerset volunteer network to help our work. We have made both Curry Rivel and Hambridge Schools aware of our work. During half term we supplied extra food boxes to all our clients with children in the light of the Government's failure to do so . Sadly, Marcus Rashford was too busy to visit us though!
We have resolved to continue to supply to those in need for at least the next six months, and I am in the process of opening a bank account for in the name of the Curry Rivel, Hambridge and Drayton Food Bank which will help us to function more easily. Some villagers have approached us about making regular donations by direct debit , and we are exploring grant availability as well to strengthen our financial position. At the moment we receive cash donations and our receipts and payments are accounted for by Steve Beney who acts independently of us for financial transparency purposes. We are able to operate from the United Reform Church Hall, who allow us to store our food there and operate twice weekly without charge so we are very grateful to Rev Tim Richards and his church members.
It would be excellent if the Parish Council could publicise and support our work. Inevitably, it may be more difficult for some of our regular food donators to attend on us in the winter months, and we need to keep reminding villagers of what we are doing and the importance of it. The gratitude of the clients whom we help brings great joy to us and reminds us that any community is the stronger for supporting each other. Sadly, there are a number of families with real need in our three villages and I fear that number will increase in the coming months.
Thank you for allowing me the time to send this brief report to you.