Hastings Foodbank’s crowdfunder appeal, launched on 27th March with an initial target of £10,000, has already netted over £15,000 for
the foodbank itself and its partner social action projects. Community engagement director Natalie Williams is hoping to see the fund reach up to £20,000 by the time the appeal period ends this Friday (24th April).

“People in Hastings are so generous, so compassionate – like nowhere else,” says Ms Williams. “As they can’t get food from the shops for us, many are donating money instead.”

PICTURE: Dave Young

The Foodbank provides free food and other vital supplies to needy families and individuals from its base at King’s Church on the Ridge in response to referrals from the Community Hub, Citizens Advice and local GPs. Organisers have experienced a huge spike in demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its knock-on effects. The Foodbank has been running for eight years, and had already been serving increasing numbers as a result of the Universal Credit roll-out. The current lockdown has pushed these numbers even higher, including many who (says Ms Williams) have never experienced poverty or hardship before.

At the same time the rush on supermarkets, which started in anticipation of the lockdown, has made it more difficult for donors – mostly church groups and individuals – to obtain and deposit food and other basic supplies like toilet rolls and nappies in excess of their own needs. The closure of schools, restaurants and bars in the last week of March did result in a substantial amount of their stocks being diverted to the Foodbank. However, this source of supply has now dried up, and tinned meat, fish, fruit and vegetables are all in actual or potential shortage (plenty of baked beans, though). 

The King’s Church premises are open for a couple of hours twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) for referred visitors, but much of the provision is being delivered to self-isolating and otherwise vulnerable people in their own homes. Fresh volunteers have offered their services, but more are still needed to take the place of those who have been ill or needed to self-isolate themselves. 

The crowdfunder funds, which should be releasable within a few days of 24th April, will enable the Foodbank to replenish stocks and also
to cover increased admin costs. Demand seems unlikely to decrease any time soon.

Other social action projects at King’s Church include assistance for:
• vulnerable pregnant women referred by their community health visitor
or midwife; 
• elderly and isolated people; 
• survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking;
• those trapped in overwhelming debt;
• asylum seekers and refugees;
• primary school children at risk of exclusion either from bullying or difficult home lives.

“People are in dire straits,” says Ms Williams. “We are seeing a lot of desperation, and real need.”

Crowdfunder donations can be made online at
www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hastings-foodbank-covid19-crisis-appeal


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