A team of Downham Market volunteers has launched a campaign to make sure children and families don’t go hungry this Christmas.
The residents, supported by Downham Food Bank, the town’s Eternity Church and the Swan Youth Project, said campaign, for the town and surrounding villages, was not just for the festive season but all school holidays.
The Downham and District No Child Goes Hungry volunteers hope to have the first food parcels ready for Friday, December 18 followed by a second batch on Wednesday, December 23.
The group is urging struggling families to get in touch and has appealed to residents and businesses to show their support by donating food and toiletries.
Alex Coates, who runs the food bank, welcomed the campaign.
She said: “While the government’s decision to support children during this holiday period is very positive, we recognise there are a lot of families who will not be able to take advantage of this scheme, but will be equally in need.
“The food bank will be open as normal, but we want to help to coordinate this additional piece of work to ensure that as many children and their families are reached as possible.”
Mum Harriet Tunnicliff, one of the campaign volunteers, said: “It’s not easy asking for help but as a team we want to ensure that people can come forward and feel confident that their situation will not be judged.
“The list of circumstances as to why help is needed is endless, but we ask anyone who has children in their household and is concerned about being able to provide three meals a day through the long Christmas break to come forward.
“You may have been furloughed and financially things have become very tough or you may have had your hours reduced or lost your job and the household budgets are stretched, whatever your need do identify yourself so help can be given.”
The Swan Youth Project at Paradise Road will be the food parcel collection point for families, but volunteers will also deliver parcels to those unable to get into town.
“We are very central in the town and it worked well over October half-term,” said Anna Foster, youth project manager.
“There is a great need in the area for this piece of work during the Christmas break and I hope that we can get referrals in from schools as well as individual families. The service will be totally confidential and the friendly team of volunteers will always be non-judgemental.
“We have sent out information to local schools and asked them to let all their families know that this is available.
“Families can also refer themselves and we would ask that you contact us at Anna@swanyouthproject.org or firstname.lastname@example.org We do not want to put a deadline on this but we would like referrals by Monday, November 30 where possible.”
For details help completing referral forms, call Anna on 01366 386259 or Alex 01366 384474.
Campaign volunteer Frances Rayner added: “We have seen some very generous people within our community supporting with food aid in recent months and we would like to appeal to individuals and businesses to help ensure we have the food we need.
“Pledges of support would really boost supplies so it would be great to hear from any local suppliers of fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables, bread etc and also any other businesses in town who feel this is a worthwhile cause and want to get involved.
“If anyone would like to offer their support, they can contact us at office@Eternitydownham.co.uk letting us know what they can donate. We are not able to take cash donations, but would appreciate Morrisons or Tesco vouchers so our volunteer team can go and shop for the items required.”
Donated items can be delivered to Eternity Church, Trafalgar Industrial Estate, on December 15 between 9am and 3pm, or the Swan Youth Project on December 16 and 17 between 9am and 4pm. Fresh items to be delivered on December 17 and 22. See Facebook Downham Market No Child Goes Hungry Scheme for more details.
Items needed: cereals, crisps, fruit juice, squash, pasta sauce, baked beans, tinned hot dog sausages, spaghetti hoops, chocolate spread, long life milk, jam, biscuits, fresh bread, dairy products, fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese, ham, toilet rolls, shower gel and toothpaste.