Volunteers celebrate the opening of Uckfield Foodbank in new premises. From the left are: Clive Featherstone, trustee; Simon Harriyott, who hopes to be a trustee; Barbara Trickey, volunteer; Sharon Burt, Foodbank manager; Coralie Thomson, volunteer, and Chrissy Noble, volunteer team leader.

Uckfield Foodbank celebrates move to new premises

Uckfield Foodbank held a party yesterday to publicise a move to new premises.

The foodbank can now be found at The Source, The Hub, Civic Approach. It is conveniently next door to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, one of the agencies which issues vouchers to people in need of emergency food supplies.

Volunteers open the foodbank on Tuesday and Friday afternoons from 2.30 to 4pm when clients are able to go along and exchange their vouchers for food carefully selected to be nutritionally balanced.

Foodbank manager Sharon Burt said many people needed only one or two vouchers before the issue that had led to them needing help had been resolved.

But a problem with benefits could take weeks to resolve and so, on recommendation from an agency closely involved in the case, the foodbank could offer support for six, eight or even 12 weeks.

A foodbank voucher entitles clients to enough food for three meals a day, for three days, for every member of the household.

The food is either dried, in packets, or in tins or jars. There is no fresh food because that would involve more health and safety procedures and storage problems.

Sharon said it was very difficult for people to come into the foodbank. They didn’t want charity, wanted to support their own families and only came when they literally had nothing left in their cupboards.

“A lot of people say this is the 21st century why do we need foodbanks, it harks back to the 17th and 18th centuries. People find it very upsetting to be here.

“Volunteers are pleased to be here to help people. A lot of clients go away really thankful and grateful for the welcome they receive.

“There are little tables and we give them tea, coffee and cakes and somebody will sit and chat with them. We are often able to help with other problems, directing them to organisations that can help with, say, problem teenagers or giving up smoking.”

Sharon said all the food was brought to the foodbank in boxes from a warehouse but once there it was put into carrier bags so that people could leave looking as if they had just been to Tesco. There was nothing on the bags to connect them with the foodbank.

Sharon said the foodbank was grateful to all the people who contributed food regularly and hoped they would continue to do so. When additional stocks were needed appeals would go out.

She added they had plenty of volunteers at the moment but there was turnover and so they kept a waiting list and people were welcome to add their name to that.

The biggest problem at the moment for the foodbank was finding the money to cover their overheads. An Uckfield Town Council grant would cover rent for a year but a grant towards Sharon’s salary – she works 12 hours a week – had run out and new ways of raising funds were being considered.

  • Uckfield Foodbank has fed 333 adults and 225 children a total of 5022 meals in the past year.
  • Seventy-four volunteers have given 1600 hours of their own time to help out.
  • The equivalent of ten large trolleys of food, 827kg is donated a month.

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