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Downham Market volunteers set up group to ensure 'no child goes hungry this Christmas'

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Volunteers have teamed up in a West Norfolk town to ensure there is support for those families in need who fall outside the government criteria this winter.

Downham's food bank, the Eternity Church and the Swan Youth Project are working with volunteers to "ensure no child goes hungry at Christmas".

The Swan Youth Project is offering its premises on Paradise Road as a collection point for families this December.

Pictured outside the Swan Youth Project are volunteer Frances Rayner, Alex Coates of the food bank, Anna Foster of the Swan Youth Project and volunteer Harriet Tunnicliff. Picture: SUBMITTED
Pictured outside the Swan Youth Project are volunteer Frances Rayner, Alex Coates of the food bank, Anna Foster of the Swan Youth Project and volunteer Harriet Tunnicliff. Picture: SUBMITTED

Manager Anna Foster said this worked well as a collection over the October half-term due to its central location.

She added: "There is a great need in the area for this piece of work during the Christmas break and I hope that we can get referrals in from schools as well as individual families."

The service will be totally confidential and the volunteers will always be non-judgemental.

The group's logo for the Christmas campaign
The group's logo for the Christmas campaign

The group is adamant this campaign is not just a one-off and will remain essential during all school holiday periods going forward due to the nature of the situation.

Downham's Eternity Church, located on Trafalgar Industrial Estate, has been the location for the food bank for many years and is run by Alex Coates and a team of volunteers.

She welcomed being approached by local residents to see how the food bank could support them.

The poster for the campaign
The poster for the campaign

"Whilst the Government’s decision to support children during this holiday period is very positive, we recognise that there are a lot of families who will not be able to take advantage of this scheme but will be equally in need," she said.

"The food bank will be open as normal, but we want to help to coordinate this additional piece of work to ensure that as many children and their families are reached as possible."

The first food parcels are expected to be ready on December 18 with a second parcel available on December 23. Volunteers will also be delivering parcels where families are unable to get to town for the supplies they need.

Local mum Harriet Tunnicliff, who has volunteered her support, said: "It’s not easy asking for help but as a team we want to ensure that people can come forward and feel confident that their situation will not be judged.

"The list of circumstances as to why help is needed are endless, but we ask that anyone who has children in their household and is concerned about being able to provide three meals a day through the long Christmas break come forward.

"You may have been furloughed and financially things have become very tough or you may have had your hours reduced or lost your job and the household budgets are stretch, whatever your need do identify yourself so help can be given."

Information has been sent out to local schools by the group who asked them to let all their families know that this scheme is available. Families can also refer themselves and are asked to contact the group with contact details by emailing Anna@swanyouthproject.org or office@eternitydownham.co.uk.

Alex and Anna are keen to have an informal chat and will also be on hand to support with filling in the referral forms. This can be done by dropping in to see them or giving them a call. Anna can be reached on 01366 386259 and Alex 01366 384474.

Downham volunteer Frances Rayner, who organises the Downham Games, said: "We have seen some very generous people within our community supporting with food aid in recent months, and we would like to appeal to individuals and businesses to help ensure we have the food we need.

"Pledges of support would really boost supplies so it would be great to hear from any local suppliers of fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables, bread etc. and also any other businesses in town who feel this is a worthwhile cause and want to get involved."

General public donations are welcome and can be delivered to Eternity Church on Tuesday, December 15 between 9am and 3pm or the Swan Youth Project Wednesday, December 16 and Thursday, December 17 between 9am and 4pm.

Fresh items must be delivered on December 17 and December 22.

The group has included a list of items required, which are:

Store cupboard items

  • Breakfast cereal
  • Multi Pack of Crisps
  • Fruit Juice
  • Squash
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Baked Beans
  • Hot Dog Sausages
  • Toilet Roll
  • Log Life Milk
  • Jam
  • Chocolate spread
  • Spaghetti hoops
  • Biscuits

Fresh items

  • Bread
  • Pack Cheese
  • Pack of ham
  • Fruit – apples, oranges,
  • bananas, pears
  • Vegetables – cucumber,
  • carrots, tomatoes
  • Yoghurts
  • Butter or margarine
  • Milk

Hygiene bank items

  • Boys deodorant
  • Shower gel for girls and boys
  • Toothpaste

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