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Foodbank — helping people through crisis
Thursday, 21 June 2012
ANSWERING the call to help those who find themselves in temporary crisis, the Tavistock Area Foodbank was officially opened at its premises at the United Reform Church in Russell Street, Tavistock on Friday.
The foodbank, which started in April, is already proving a much appreciated resource to those who need its services. In just a few months more than two tonnes of food have been donated to the Tavistock Foodbank and its sister branch at Bere Alston.
Tavistock mayor Anne Johnson, who cut a ribbon to open the foodbank, said: ‘I have been very impressed with the scheme and its volunteers, who have worked so tirelessly to keep up the momentum to provide this much needed service.’
The foodbank provides for people who find themselves in desperate need of food for a range of reasons, such as benefit changes or delays, debt, domestic violence or homelessness.
In just five weeks 20 vouchers have been issued by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau or the Tavistock Area Children’s Centre to recipients, helping to give food for three days to 32 adults and 17 children in need.
The foodbank was initiated when Tavistock town Cllr Dick Eberlie asked the CAB what it needed and they told him a foodbank was badly required in the town.
The gauntlet was picked up by Tavistock Area Churches Together with the support of Tavistock Rotary Club, Tavistock Lions, other community groups and individuals.
Since then collections of non-perishable food items have been held outside town supermarkets by volunteers, and donations of food and money have come from various sources in the area. The voluntary organisation needs £5,000 a year to provide its services.
Graham Boot-Handford, chairman of Tavistock Area Foodbank, said: ‘People have been extremely generous. There have been a small minority of people who have said there is no need for such a facility in the town but most people agree there is — and in the short time we have been going the demand has demonstrated there is definitely such a need.
‘People with vouchers are given a parcel of food which will last for three days — three meals a day, which are balanced and nutritional.
‘Our aim is to provide for just that period as it is not intended as long-term support but to help people through a crisis. There are social services and other agencies out there to help in the longer period, which we are happy to refer them to if needed.
‘For example, someone might find themselves suddenly with a £200 bill to repair their car. They will need that car to get to work to earn money but the bill means they have to make a choice of paying for the repair or going without food or heating.’
One of those who found herself in short-term need and came to Tavistock Area Foodbank for help was Kristin Quirke.
An American, she was married to husband Michael from Tavistock. Sadly, in April Michael, aged just 61, suddenly died from heart problems. Kirstin, who cannot claim benefits because she is not a UK national, found herself not only having to cope with her loss but without the means to support herself financially.
Kristin, aged 54, was not so long ago a volunteer herself who with her late husband and others, helped serve elderly people a Christmas dinner organised by the URC.
She told the Times: ‘Being American I did not know a lot of people in the town to help me. I had no financial means, no food, no heating, I was desperate.
‘I had to swallow a lot of pride just to ask for help as I felt I was losing my dignity but I can’t praise the Tavistock Area Foodbank volunteers enough. They made me so welcome.
‘It wasn’t just the food that I badly needed, they gave me more than that, they gave me emotional support, even a hug, and treated me like a human being. I can’t thank them enough and I know I have found here some friends for life.’
Maggie Calvert, of the Tavistock Area Children’s Centre, said: ‘This facility is just brilliant. Several families who have used the vouchers given to them have told me how much it has got them through a time of crisis and helped to give them the time to go on to the next level.’
Major Dawn McGarvey from the Salvation Army at URC said: ‘This is very much an effort by the whole community, not just TACT, who provide most of the funds organisations such as the Rotary and Lions Clubs as well as many individuals, which just proves there are so many people who just want to help others in need in the community.’
The foodbank at URC in Russell Street is open every Friday between 10am and 2pm while the foodbank in Bere Alston is open at Hope Cottage on Tuesday between 10am and noon.
If you would like to make a donation of food or money to the foodbank call 079414 36149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tavistock Acoustic Café is holding its monthly charity event at the Wharf tonight (Thursday), in support of the foodbank. Doors open from 7pm and the music starts at 8pm — £5 entrance fee (U18s £3).
Compere Andy Harding has asked members of the audience and musicians to be so good as to ‘bring a tin’ (food that is) which will be donated to the foodbank.
All content © of Tavistock Times Gazette unless stated otherwise.
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Sir Ray Tindle
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