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New foodbank delivery service feeds 450 in first three weeks

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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, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church, Gorleston.

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 their 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 our criteria and then receive a delivery of a 7-day emergency food parcel.”

Since the service began on Monday 16 March, a total of 190 deliveries have been made; serving 283 adults and 167 children.

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!”

Revd 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.