South Norfolk: Residents bank on local support
Wymondham Food Bank is now busier than ever serving 120 to 150 people a week.
Arnie McConnell, who opened the food bank in 2018, with the support of South Norfolk Council, said:
“There has been a marked increase in people using our services, not just collecting food, but people also seeking other forms of help.”
A team of 25 volunteers help to run the food bank, which is open twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11 to 1. They also deliver food to the town’s most vulnerable residents.
Over the years, the food bank has become much more than a place to get food. Working closely with the Council’s Community Connectors, it has developed into a place residents turn to for all sorts of help and advice, including debt and legal advice. The volunteers also provide clothes for people in need and can help source essential household items.
Arnie, who previously volunteered at the Citizens Advice Bureaux, said:
“We go over and above handing out digestive biscuits, people come here to feed their stomachs, spirit and self-esteem.
“There’s an extraordinary stigma around using a food bank, but if you need help, we’re here and we certainly don’t judge anybody.”
With the cost-of-living crisis set to get worse, demands for the service will only increase.
“While we are doing OK now,” confides Arnie, “the winter months are going to be tough.”
Fortunately, the food bank gets a huge amount of support from the local community. Co-op, Waitrose and Lidl all supply food, which helps eliminate food waste and there are also donation bins where the community generously gives what they can.
“We pass on the goodwill and generosity of the community and are humbled by the amount of support we receive.”
Arnie also works alongside the Council and other funding bodies to secure grants to help fund the food bank.
The team has already started to think about Christmas, where they will once again be buying presents for struggling parents to give to their children as well as providing special Christmas hampers.
“If we can put a smile on a child’s face at Christmas, we will!”
For more information on the work of Wymondham Food Bank, please search for the Wymondham Community Outreach Project on Facebook.