Big boost in support for Norwich Foodbank over Harvest period

Norwich Foodbank was running so low on supplies this August that the organisation had resorted to buying certain types of food to make up their foodboxes.

The charity – which supplies people with food in times of crisis – launched a big Harvest campaign to try and get six tonnes of food in by the end of October. Now, boosted by the Evening News campaign to help 'Fill the Foodbank', the charity has had a fantastic 12 tonnes of food donated. The news delighted the project manager of Norwich Foodbank, Grant Habershon.

He said: 'With a week still to go of the campaign the Norwich Foodbank has received an amazing 12 tonnes of food already, with more being promised from a number of sources. This campaign was supported by many, including the Evening News and local MP Chloe Smith.

'Food has come in from all over the county. This incredible response is allowing us to push ahead with plans to open additional distribution centres for foodboxes both in Norwich and further afield.'

In November Norwich Foodbank will open a new distribution centre – where those given a Foodbank voucher by a care service can claim their foodbox – at Witard Road Baptist Church in Heartsease and another one at Eternity Christian Centre in West Earlham in December.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, is one of the organisation's high-profile supporters. He is delighted to hear of its latest success, saying: 'Redundancy and unemployment can make a family who never thought they would need help of this sort require it very quickly.

'While some find it hard to accept help, others are amazed that ordinary people they have never met care so much about them. That is the great thing about Norwich Foodbank – it generates gratitude, builds trust and waters that tender plant called community life. It's a privilege for me to be associated with such a fine Christian service to our city. And it is one in which all of us can share, whatever our beliefs.'

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John Betts, 74, from Taverham, is chairman of the Norwich Foodbank trustees and been involved with the project from the start.

He pointed out that in the current tough economic climate and time of high unemployment, it is not just people in the more deprived areas of the city needing Norwich Foodbank's help.

He said: 'I'm involved with another charity in Lakenham so I know what the situation is like in Norwich, with big areas like Mile Cross and Larkman with lots of people on low incomes.

'And people in those areas who have jobs tend to be unskilled and are the first out of the door when there are problems. But we are also seeing people who are skilled and live in the middle-class areas getting made redundant and coming to us as well now.

'It could be any of us that it happens to tomorrow.'

Lesley Armstrong is a support worker at the YMCA sheltered housing centre in Throckmorton Yard, off Magdelen Street, Norwich.

She could not speak highly enough of the work Norwich Foodbank does to help the YMCA support young homeless people that they support, saying: 'They have been fantastic for us. There is never a time when they are not able to help us.

'We get a lot of young people aged 16 to 25. If they are aged 16 to 18 and have somehow become homeless, they come to us and they are normally not getting benefits so have no income at all. We can give them somewhere to stay but they are in crisis because they can't be self-sufficient, so Foodbank steps in with a food package.'

Norwich Foodbank will be collecting food today at Longwater Sainsbury's, from 9am until 3.30pm.

You can donate up to �10 to Norwich Foodbank by sending a text message reading 'FBUK11' to 70070, which will be split evenly between Norwich Foodbank and the Trussell Trust, which sets up foodbanks nationally.

Has Norwich Foodbank been a big help to you? Call reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email