HUNDREDS of people struggling to pay for groceries are being given a helping hand by a new project here in Eastbourne.
The Food Bank was set up by Christian charity The Trussell Trust back in May as a way of helping locals who have been hit by the recession.
It was the brainchild of Howard Wardle – who had previously run a debt consultation service and used his church community to help hand out food to people finding it difficult to make ends meet.
That experience inspired him to launch the Food Bank and the scheme has been busy collecting donations since May, with the food now starting to be distributed throughout Eastbourne.
Mr Wardle said, “People may not think it but there is definitely a demand for this.
“Lots of people are finding themselves un-employed or are having their hours cut back. There can be a wait for benefits to be sorted out – sometimes as much as five weeks – it begs the question, what are people meant to eat in the meantime?”
The Food Bank works by collecting donations, stockpiling them in its Bridgemere Road premises and handing out vouchers to a host of front-line professionals working in Eastbourne, like school nurses, health visitors and staff and volunteers at homeless groups.
Those vouchers are then handed out to people deemed suitable by the experts, and subsequently exchanged for food.
Each voucher can be swapped for three days’ worth of supplies and the emphasis, according to Mr Wardle, is on helping people through a difficult time rather than simply encouraging them to survive on handouts.
“Families are under a lot of pressure. The idea is to give people a safety net. “By the end of this year we will have helped feed more than 500 people here in Eastbourne.
“We don’t just give out food. When people give in their vouchers we point them toward other groups locally to show them what else is out there.
“That is key to what we do. We don’t just give out handouts. We want to help support people through any crisis.”
To find out how to donate food, or to learn more about the service on offer, either visit the website www.eastbourne.foodbank.org.uk, call 01323 439700 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.