PRESS RELEASE: Burgess Hill Community Food Bank Relocates to Town Centre Premises.
For Immediate Release
Burgess Hill Community Food Bank has moved! Our joint depot/distribution point is now situated at 85 Church Walk, Burgess Hill. We have been operating since 2013 and currently have one depot and three distribution hubs (Burgess Hill, Hurstpierpoint & Hassocks). Like many organisations we have been majorly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, in the following ways:
Distribution: in Burgess Hill we lost our distribution premises and so would like to convey our thanks to Major Angela White who welcomed the distribution team into the Salvation Army Hall (Cyprus Rd), where we have been until now as we are now in our new premises. Our Hassocks distribution point were able to move into the URC & the Hurstpierpoint team decided to move to delivery only. Offering a delivery service was new for us, but due to the number of vulnerable clients who were shielding, we needed to still be able to support them.
Volunteers: many of our volunteers were stood down as they were also classified as vulnerable, however new volunteers from the local community came forward to support us. This enabled us to continue providing food to our community.
Clients: numbers increased massively at the start of lockdown and remained that way for the first 3 months. Whilst this has subsequently reduced, numbers are still higher than pre-lockdown levels. Over a 5 month period (21st March – 20th August) we provided 606 crates of food to clients, as a result of 424 vouchers issued by agencies (covering 742 adults/teenagers and 417 pre-teens). Over two thirds of the vouchers were for clients in Burgess Hill, with the rest covering clients in Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint.
We have had many clients feedback to us their thankfulness for the food they received. Knowing that we have provided food to people who were struggling to feed themselves and their families has encouraged and inspired our volunteers in terms of the positive impact they are having in people’s lives. We still believe that there are more in our community who are in need of food but may have never been in this situation before and therefore feel embarrassed about asking for help. What we would like to say to those people is we provide food to people from all walks of life (especially since the pandemic outbreak), and we treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Community support: during the Pandemic outbreak our local community has rallied to support us in many ways – individuals, groups and businesses donated food as well as money, including some substantial sums, to support us.
We have been looking for new premises for a long time. Robert Eggleston (BHTC Leader) was key in the discussion with New River Retail and helped us secure appropriate premises for us to use as a joint depot and distribution point. Our thanks also go to New River Retail who have provided us with the premises at a ‘peppercorn’ rent.
These premises needed renovation and refurbishment to meet our needs. A number of local organisations, companies and charities have been key in supporting us with this. In particular we would like to thank:
- Burgess Hill Town Council who donated £1,807.89. Their maintenance team also helped us with a substantial part of the renovation/refurbishment
- Burgess Hill District Lions Club also donated £1,807.89, which included a £1,000 grant from the Lions Clubs Foundation (part of a much larger commitment by the Foundation to support local communities in the British Isles during the COVID-19 crisis)
- The local companies (details can be found on our website) and our volunteers who helped get the premises ready for the move.
As of 1st September, our new food depot and distribution point is open (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11am – 1pm) for us to help those in need within our local community.
For more details, please see our website: http://www.burgesshillfoodbank.org.uk/
Joe Wilkinson, Current Chair of Trustees said: After a great effort from many volunteers we have consolidated our premises in one central place. This move will greatly enhance our operations in Burgess Hill which have been hampered recently by having a Storage and Sorting Depot devoid of the usual heat light and water for several years. And since Lockdown we have been relying on the generosity of the Salvation Army to provide premises from which we could distribute. We can now continue to serve the needs of those in Food Poverty in Burgess Hill and the surrounding Villages in these challenging times.
Photo L-R: Ken Saunders, Cllr Robert Eggleston, Chris Tomas-Atkins, Joe Wilkinson taken in the depot part of our new premises
Joe is the chair of Burgess Hill Community Foodbank and Ken & Chris are representatives from Burgess Hill District Lions