The coordinators of the Somer Valley Foodbank have released details of the number of people who have benefited from the community welfare project since it was launched last year, which has been set up to help people in food crisis. Since its launch on 8th January 2013, almost 2,300 people have been fed after visiting one of the distribution centres in Peasedown St John, Radstock or Midsomer Norton. 1,400 of these were adults, with the remainder being under 18 years of age.

Revd Matthew Street, the Leader of St John’s Church in Peasedown St John said:

“These figures show how much of a positive impact the foodbank is having. Without this essential project, more than 2,000 people would have struggled otherwise.”

In total, almost 26,000 kilos of food has been donated within the last 18 months from a series of supermarket collections at Tesco’s in Midsomer Norton and RADCO in Radstock, and from the generosity of 23 churches and other organisations.

Foodbanks provide three days of emergency food to people who need it the most. Professionals such as health visitors, social workers and the CAB identify people in crisis and issue them with a Foodbank voucher.

The voucher can be taken to a Foodbank distribution centre where a friendly team of volunteers will offer a cup of tea and help people with their food needs.

With more than 70 volunteers collecting and transporting food, helping in distribution centres, and providing support to those who visit, the Somer Valley Foodbank is one of the biggest volunteer-led projects in Bath and North East Somerset.

Joy Fraser, the Somer Valley Foodbank Co-ordinator added:

“We still hear of people going hungry who do not know how to get a Foodbank voucher. People finding themselves in food crisis should approach a professional agency such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Children’s Services, Health Visitor and District Nursing Teams to name a few. Several B&NES services, Curo Housing, Sirona and some schools hold our vouchers. These professionals will also help people to find the long-term help and support they need to get through their crisis.

We also hear of professionals who are not yet aware of our voucher scheme and who could be helping more of their clients through difficult times. Any professional agencies wanting to join the scheme should contact the Foodbank on info@somervalleyfoodbank.org.uk for further information.

Of the 2,300 people who have received help, almost a third did so because of being on a low income, 28% was because of benefit delays, 18% visited due to changes to their benefits, and the rest attended a Foodbank distribution centre due to finding themselves in financial debt.

For further details about Somer Valley Foodbank contact The Ammerdown Centre: 01761 433709 or visit the Somer Valley Foodbank website: www.somervalleyfoodbank.org.uk