WOKING Foodbank has reported record food donations and referrals for emergency supplies in December.

“Food donations rose to an all-time high of 10,732 kilos (10.7 tonnes), an increase of 4,130 kilos (4.1 tonnes) over the same month in 2021,” said project co-ordinator Alison Buckland.

“We had 266 referrals to the foodbank, and saw a 16% increase in referrals overall. However, there was a 40% increase in families referred to us compared to the previous December.

“To break down those figures, last December we had 229 referrals, and those referrals represented 550 people, adults and children.

“This time we had 266 referrals, representing 707 people.

“Referrals for single people and couples have changed little, but referrals for families have gone up 40%, which is a trend.

“The Brookwood Christmas Campaign ran again this year thanks to Trudi Fletcher and the Brookwood Club.

“About £3,265 was raised by way of cash donations and Trudi will use these funds to shop for us throughout the year. Also, 655 kilos (0.65 tonnes) of food were collected from around the village.”

More than 350 Christmas bags were packed, with help from SomethingBig, a communications and branding agency based in Send, and fitness group GoodGym, and distributed.

Of those, 130 were distributed via The Salvation Army Woking, 55 to Woking Borough Council for those in supported housing, and 170 for foodbank visitors referred during December, including supermarket gift cards between £50 and £80, depending on family size.

The foodbank Christmas treat bags were distributed during a special weekend event which included hot drinks, homemade cookies, gifts and a new book for each child represented. Books were wrapped on site.

“Our bookstall was kindly run by The Lionsheart bookshop in Woking and organised and sponsored by one of our volunteers,” Alison said.

“David and Sally Evans, who own/manage the bookshop, gave us a 20% discount on all books purchased, plus a sale or return option, so we had a lot of choice.

“Anyone coming to our special Christmas event to collect goodie bags and supermarket gift cards was able to choose a new book for each of their children.  The books were wrapped and bagged ready for Christmas.”

The foodbank opened between Christmas and New Year for those finding themselves in need during the quiet period when other avenues for emergency help are often unavailable.

“A highlight for us was making porridge for a few people who had no access to hot food, including a gentleman living in his van,” Alison said.

“Another, a bit earlier, was helping a lady going through a tough time who came to see us just before Christmas.

“That morning we had received a wonderful delivery from Marks & Spencer, which included turkey crowns, stuffing, veg, and so on.

“The lady cried tears of joy when she left with everything she needed to give her family a proper Christmas. Food, chocolate treats, gifts, and a £75 
supermarket card to buy something extra of her own choice.”