Busy Christmas for Woking Foodbank

WOKING Foodbank reported another busy Christmas with 232 referrals to the charity last month, up 14% on December 2020.

The number of adults and children provided with food was almost identical to the corresponding period in 2020 – a rise of seven to 553 – the increase in referrals reflecting the greater number of adults helped in 2021.

IN THE BAG – Alan and Ellen Buckland have the van loaded and ready to deliver Woking Foodbank’s Christmas goodies

“Over the weekend of 18 and 19 December we delivered more than 150 Christmas goody bags,” said the foodbank project’s co-ordinator, Alison Buckland.

“The bags contained Christmas treats and a supermarket voucher to enable our visitors to purchase some fresh food for the holiday. 

“We also provided 150 food bags for distribution by the Salvation Army and 70 bags for Woking Borough Council to deliver to many of their single residents.

“Looking at the December figures, they could be an indication that the impact of Omicron is increasing demand, or that things are just getting tougher.”

Taking 2021 as a whole, the foodbank saw a drop of just under 20% in the number of those to whom it provided food compared with 2020, from 6133 in 2020 to 5033 in 2021.

“This is no surprise given the significant impact of COVID in 2020, when more people’s needs were greater,” Alison added. “If we compare the 2021 figures with 2019, we have provided food to 11% more people in 2021, so we are still seeing an increase from pre-COVID times.

Over 150 Christmas goody bags, packed and ready to be delivered to Woking Foodbank

“During 2021 we were providing an average of around 100 people with food each week.

“The foodbank has been well supported again in terms of volunteers, and financial and food donations. We have been able to supply everyone newly referred to the foodbank with one-off supermarket vouchers to supplement the long-life foods we collect, alongside cheese, bread and eggs.

“And we have been able to continue our support for Woking’s Community Money Advice Service and develop a new Signposting and Wellbeing Support initiative. 

“The signposting initiative was set up in spring while we were still operating a delivery model.  We were conscious that people referred to the foodbank were receiving food at their door, with no opportunity to chat to anyone and hear about the many support organisations operating locally.

“Our support worker followed up with everyone newly referred to the foodbank, to advise them of other help available. 

“Sometimes this was just providing a listening ear, but more often referrals to other support agencies and access to urgently needed goods, including essential furniture, clothing and white goods. 

“We hope to develop this service during 2022 and it may come to include assistance with fuel costs and more specialist advice.

“We are well stocked with food after generous Christmas donations.  It would be very helpful, though, if people could keep an eye on our website and social media, where our shortages will be updated regularly.”  

* FOR further details, visit www.woking.foodbank.org.uk, email info@woking.foodbank.org.uk or call 07896 077760. To donate, email warehouse@woking.foodbank.org.uk or call 07376 952892.

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