Bus company joins forces with Norwich Foodbank to provide free travel for people in crisis

PUBLISHED: 13:14 16 December 2016 | UPDATED: 13:14 16 December 2016

First Eastern Counties bus company joins forces with Norwich Foodbank to help those in need. Pictured are foodbank volunteers and David Jordan from First, centre.

First Eastern Counties bus company joins forces with Norwich Foodbank to help those in need. Pictured are foodbank volunteers and David Jordan from First, centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

People who rely on the Norwich Foodbank to put a square meal on the table are to get free bus travel to pick up their emergency parcels.

Bus operator First Eastern Counties has announced a new partnership today with Trussell Trust foodbanks, which runs the foodbank at the Henderson Business Centre in Ivy Road, Bowthorpe.

It means foodbank teams in the Norwich area will be given free bus journey vouchers, which can be used by people needing help from the foodbank and the volunteers who work there.

The Trussell Trust had raised the issue with First Bus that some of the people who needed to use the foodbank were walking long distances with heavy shopping bags.

The partnership means people issued with vouchers by care professionals, such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, the citizens advice bureau or police can use the bus for free.

The partnership will also deliver ‘food collection events’ to be held at supermarkets in the new year asking shoppers to donate a few items for the local foodbank when they do their weekly shop.

Jo Stevenson, The Trussell Trust’s east of England regional development officer, said: “Trussell Trust foodbank managers often meet people who have had to walk miles to reach emergency support, and then face walking a long way home with heavy bags of food.

“If you don’t have enough money to put food on the family table, you certainly don’t have enough money for travel.

“The bus voucher scheme has made a real, and immediate, impact already with a number of Trussell Trust foodbanks in the Midlands and Essex – it is an innovative and very practical project which offers an immediate solution to people who are at crisis point.

“It’s great to see the extension of a scheme that will help foodbanks make even more of a difference in Norwich.”

Steve Wickers, managing director for First Eastern Counties said: “It’s great to know that by providing the free journey vouchers, we are making a real difference to local people’s lives who may have fallen on hard times.

“We have rolled this initiative out in other parts of the country with great success and I hope the new partnership with the Trussell Trust foodbanks here in Norwich, will be just as valuable.

“We play a key role in the local community by running a comprehensive network of bus services around Norwich every day.

“Not surprisingly, it is very likely that some of the areas where bus services run, will have local residents living below the poverty line and are in a crisis situation.

“The team of volunteers at the foodbank provide a wonderful service for people who are in crisis and need some assistance with day to day basic requirements such as food.”

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