Bracknell Foodbank ready for fourth birthday
Published: 18 Sep 2013 09:000 comments
Geoff Hallett, who runs the organisation with his wife Pat, said he is delighted with the help it has given since it was set up in September 2009.
He said: “Probably by the end of this month we will have supported 8,600 adults and children [since the launch] and 95% live in Bracknell Forest.
“We never thought it would be that amount. We are so grateful to the people of Bracknell.
“I’m delighted with their support. We have had a donation of storage racking this week and also a very generous financial donation. The generosity of
supermarkets and of schools in the area is staggering.”
Mr Hallett said the couple were nervous when they created the Foodbank – based at the Kerith Centre in Church Road, Bracknell – but the help it has given people made it worthwhile.
He said: “We were very, very concerned in the early days that we would not have the capacity. We didn’t know what demand would be like but that’s not the case now.
“We support anyone – all faiths, all beliefs, all shapes, all sizes. I remember asking back then [in 2009] how long it takes before it starts tapering off. People said two to three years but we have not seen that; it continues growing.”
Mr Hallett believes the growth in demand has been caused by changes to the benefit system, including the so-called 'bedroom tax’. The latest figures show that in May 2013 the foodbank gave 3.6 tonnes of free food to 472 children and adults – three times as many as in May 2012, when it supported 160.
In its first operation in 2009, it helped 90 people.
The foodbank – part of the Trussell Trust network – distributes food three times a week to people who have got vouchers from social workers and care professionals.
Mr Hallett hopes to gain access to the foodbank’s planned new storage space in Bracknell town centre by the end of the week, which exceeds their requirement of 150 sq m.
He believes the new area will be just in time for a rush of donations from the Harvest Festival. He said: “Last year we had 14 tonnes of food donated and this year it is not going to be any less.”
Mr Hallett, who lives in Wokingham, said he will continue to head up the charity for the foresee- able future but also called on people to sign on as volunteers.
He said: “There’s going to be a time where we look to see how we go forward. We need younger people with fresh ideas to help out.”
The foodbank is also appealing for tinned meats, tinned fish, white sugar, tinned vegetables and sponge puddings.
In the past year, such has been the demand for free food parcels that foodbanks have opened up in Crowthorne and – this month – in Wokingham.