Foodbank grows to meet increasing need

WOKING Foodbank is expecting to distribute supplies sufficient to feed 3,000 more people this year than it helped in 2019.

With the coronavirus crisis taking hold and demand increasing sharply, the charity stepped up its operation to provide food and household essentials to needy and vulnerable people.

Volunteers preparing supply parcels at Woking Foodbank’s warehouse in Sheerwater

In 2020, it predicts it will give away enough to feed more than 7,500, compared with 4,500 last year.

In the year it launched, 2014, the charity provided sufficient supplies to feed 1,200 people. It then had just one base, at The Lighthouse in Woking High Street.

Six years later, it has expanded to four satellite locations and opened an additional warehouse. During the pandemic, it moved to a home delivery service, significantly extended its warehouse capacity and doubled its output.

Foodbank trustee Peter Keynes said its success has been due to its collaborative approach and partnering with local businesses, supermarkets, churches, community groups, civic organisations and generous individuals.

The original steering group included representatives from The Vineyard Church (now Emmaus Road Church), The Coign Church (now Welcome Church), York Road Project, and Woking Borough Council.

He said particular thanks were due to borough councillor Ian Johnson, who campaigned for the council to explore the establishment of a foodbank and had served as secretary to the steering group since the charity’s inception.

Cllr Johnson stepped down from this role last week, when the charity changed the structure of its management team to facilitate its continued development.

Trustee Peter Keynes said: “We are immensely grateful to Cllr Johnson for his years of dedicated contribution to the foodbank,” said Mr Keynes. “The new management team will continue to prioritise the collaboration and community partnership that he has always championed.”

Cllr Johnson said: “It has been a huge privilege and a significant highlight of my years as a local councillor to play a part in seeing the foodbank established.

“I have watched it grow from strength to strength, and am confident it is now well-positioned to continue supporting those most in need in the borough.”

Anyone who needs support from the foodbank should call its helpline, 07309 115862, between 10.30am and 12.30pm, Monday to Friday.

To find out more about the foodbank, including how to donate supplies, visit www.woking.foodbank.org.uk.

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