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2017 reports from Exmouth Community Larder

Larder update : January 2017

2016 demand was about 80-90% of the previous average - 10 or 20% down if you prefer statistics served that way. Actual numbers are very variable so it is premature to see any trend other than a need that continues.

Results are now updated monthly, with a link to the graph from the website home page. The annual demand shows that the number of people served reduced more than the 10% reduction in parcels given out, suggesting less need from larger families. Donations in 2016 kept up well, plus a big bonus when Southern Co-op gave us the residual stock of the Budgens store they took over in Brixington. So we have good reserves going forward into uncertain times.

A few volunteers came, a few left. The Larder has a stable core group of workers in age from 20's to very much older with a variety of backgrounds, simply joined by a belief in helping people less fortunate. As always we are grateful to the unseen helpers bringing donations to us from all over the area, from Budleigh, Exmouth, Exton, Lympstone, Otterton, Woodbury and elsewhere.

"Food emergencies" bring people to us with referrals from many different agencies. There is no "typical" client, each has a different story and problems, some simple, many complex.
Thank You inage

Agencies, some staffed by volunteers, some funded, are needed by clients to help them through their crisis. Help from support workers is absolutely vital to getting people back on their feet. Volunteers and staff at the CAB (Citizens' Advice Bureau), staff at EDDC housing and revenue & benefits, volunteers and staff at the Open Door Centre, the Children's Centre, NHS staff at St Johns Court and Withycombe Centre are all important contributors in the assistance they give.

There is no easy concluding paragraph; almost every situation is different; "the news" picks on one issue or another, but too many people fall outside the usual categories. In The Larder we are not a support agency. Perhaps the best we can do is to try to help "join the dots" in the complex puzzle that modern life presents, whilst making sure that clients have enough provisions to keep body and soul together ....

.... and give thanks for the donors and volunteers who make our giving possible and all the support workers who try to help people find their way forward .....

Larder update : February 2017

BayFM arranged a 15 minute radio interview about The Larder on Sunday 12th Feb, which prompted a review of the last four years summarised in our monthly reports.

""The people we serve are our purpose; those of us who do have food for our tables serving those who are in trouble for one reason or another.""Exmouth Journal 2014

Our July 2013 report was headed "HELP"....demand was exceeding donations, soon followed by relief as Harvest Festivals filled the gaps. Donations today are well matched to demand, giving us good reserves - as always THANK YOU!

December 2013 and 2014 were the peaks in the monthly usage charts. 2015 demand for the whole year has been the largest so far. The rolling average is now a few per cent down on previous years but we still face a substantial regular demand.

In 2015 we reported ""In our two years we have progressively paid more attention to our clients' underlying needs. A food emergency (no food and no money to buy food) can arise from many circumstances, but the way forward depends on bringing income and expenditure into balance.

The CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau), the Open Door Centre and EDDC (East Devon District Council) are primary referrers who provide support on welfare benefits, budgeting and debt relief or can signpost to a suitable agency. The CAB and Open Door Centre do an excellent job - it is worth adding that EDDC revenue and benefits department and housing department are sensible, professional and compassionate towards people in trouble - absolutely not the bureaucrats one might expect! ""

The Exmouth Children's Centre, Devon County Council social workers and others are now also regularly referring and supporting clients.

Rarely, but occasionally, we decline to give provisions to someone who is failing, after clear advice and several warnings, to come to terms with their underlying problem. We are here to help people in trouble, but not to encourage begging as a way of life.

And from April 2015 ""Apologies if this bulletin is boring!! The truth is that the work of The Exmouth Community Larder is as repetitive as it is necessary! So a big thank-you to all the volunteers who plug away week after week, to all our donors who keep us going and to all those who stop by for a chat to encourage us!! We are also grateful to past clients who have become donors or volunteers which adds a big boost to our ways of working and understanding the problems we are helping clients to face.""

For a client in a food emergency, it is definitely NOT boring to find that supplies are available to keep people fed through a period of crisis!!

So - as usual, THANK YOU TO THE COMMUNITY OF EXMOUTH AND SURROUNDS, whose generosity keeps us going and keeps us motivated, and on whose behalf we give food help to people in the community who are in need.

PS : The interview will be available until April 2017 from our website : www.exmouthlarder.co.uk/bayfmtxt.htm

Larder update : March 2017

Scams are all too common today with stories about people getting supplies from a foodbank while spending money on other things. In the Exmouth Larder we are very conscious that we are custodians of the generosity of the community.

Our clients are expected to have a referral from a recognised agency to confirm that they are truly in need. A food emergency only arises if there is an underlying financial crisis. Modern society has created a complex maze of forms and procedures, so it is usually important for the client to engage with experienced support. The Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) is the major source of expertise in Exmouth so we owe grateful thanks to their staff and volunteers, along with the Open Door Centre, EDDC officers, the Childrens Society and others.

We do sometimes have clients just walk in. We listen to the story and usually provide supplies, but insist that another time they must have a voucher from a key agency. Occasionally people return without a voucher, our insistence is repeated - but a third time we decline to provide supplies. This does not happen often, but it does happen!

When agencies request, we do give small amounts of cash to top up electric and gas for pay as you go meters, especially in winter. However, the cash must be converted into a receipt at a nearby shop, and the receipt brought to us before food is released. Apart from this (and contributing to the Salvation Army for the use of the premises) all cash we receive goes to buying food supplies.

Food Banks will need to continue in support of people disorganised or disoriented from all sorts of causes. ""Developing a strategic approach to abolish Food Banks within 5 years"" is a dream. We hope our politicians and officials are organised and sensible, but there will always be people who get themselves into holes and need help to get out.

Demand on the Exmouth Larder has fallen somewhat; we are down maybe 15% on the last two years. However these are uncertain times and your generosity in Exmouth and surrounds has allowed us to build some reserves. Our immediate concern is the continued availability of support expertise, which depends on experienced volunteers in the CAB, Open Door and others. As budgets get cut, the need and opportunity for volunteers to share their abilities becomes more urgent.

Due to a change in banking and Gift Aid, please could our Standing Order and Gift Aid donors contact Captain Chris Baker using the email below (or by post to Sheppards Row, Exmouth EX8 1PW) with name and address, stating whether it is a standing order, cheque or just occasional donation.
Exmouth Salvation Army email

Blessings on all who support us; hopefully the description of how we deal with clients gives confidence to our donors. It is our policy to give a "hand up" not a "hand out", and we endeavour to nudge our clients to help themselves. Sometimes this is a slow process, but it is very gratifying when clients "graduate".

Larder update : Easter 2017

Happy Easter : the Lord Jesus Christ is Risen!!

So Happy Easter to all our volunteers, donors, supporters and all of Exmouth and its surrounds, Lympstone, Exton, Woodbury, Budleigh Salterton, East Budleigh, Otterton and places in between! Most Faiths have a clear concept of afterlife, including North American Indians who saw it in their recognition of the Great Spirit, who created the mountains and rivers, interpreting what they saw with their own understanding. So in this world of "correctness", Happy Easter to EVERYONE in the community from the Community Larder. The Cadbury family, being Quaker, believe Easter could to be celebrated at any time, which is why Creme Eggs are available all year round......

Care and compassion for others is the second Great Commandment in Christian thinking; but so it is in all main Faiths and is innate in the way people are. With so much savagery going on in the world, we do what we can in our immediate surrounds to help people in need - or more accurately, dispense the help that our many donors provide. The Larder Team is a wide mix of people from different churches and no church at all, all responding to obvious needs. We welcome new volunteers from any walk of life - come when we are open and see how it works!

So bite on a hunk of chocolate, thank The Lord for His conquest of sin and death, and think of less fortunate people whose needs are basic; 7 days a week, all year round!

Stockroom pic Stockroom pic

Demand and needs in The Larder continue as usual; there is no "typical" client. The Exmouth Journal put four homeless people on the front page last week - but what a mixture of mixed up stories; different from each other and from most of our clients.

With your help we are well enough supplied as the pictures of our stockroom show, which is good in these uncertain times. THANK YOU to our donors as always. THANKS also to the support workers who provide much needed assistance to people in a great variety of mixed up situations.

Larder update : May 2017

Politicians who claim that amending the welfare system or improving the economy will make foodbanks redundant need the reality check of visiting The Larder. What our clients have in common is being disorganised, or thrown into turmoil by events. Of course some would be helped by improved "benefits", but a better response from those who administer the system is more important.

A visitor to The Larder would observe that our clients need :-
- ..... food ..... they have reached the "no food, no money" crunch point
- organised support with budgeting etc., as provided by the CAB and others
- easily accessible and wide ranging mental health support
- an education system which has given them basic budgeting and cooking skills
- an environment where drugs and alcoholism can be avoided
- a safe and secure place to sleep and call "home"
- fair tariffs for gas and electric provided via "pay as you go" meters

Particular clients have different needs; "events" that have thrown them off balance can include many things that could happen to any of us such as an accident, a stroke, or an emotional upheaval caused by a death or a split in a relationship. "I never thought I would be in this situation needing help" has been repeated often.

The CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) is a vital link to help people measure up to their problems and guide them through the complications of modern life. While the volunteer nature of CAB is an asset, it still needs finance to maintain its service.

Mental Health is now recognised by all politicians as needing serious attention, as does the need for us all to be sympathetic to people who need a bit of help. Simply offering a space where people can come for tea or coffee and a chat can be as important as the bags of provisions they may take away.

Meanwhile, we focus on our main task of providing basic supplies to people who are without, and thanking the whole community for your support without which we could not function.

When (one day!) the politicians have achieved their perfection of full employment at a living wage, easily obtainable welfare for all and a drug free society, there will still be people in a jam who need help. To list the instances we see is not appropriate - people do not always treat other people as they should. When that happens among the rich and famous it makes the tabloid papers; when it happens among those living on a wage from one week to the next it creates a crisis. The "client" helped by the Good Samaritan in the parable needed help; that was all the qualification necessary.

Larder update : help beyond food - June 2017

A Food Emergency is only a symptom of a deeper crisis - running out of money!

In The Larder we do our best to nudge our clients to get back on top of their affairs by obtaining support from one of the agencies that can help dealing with debt problems, welfare benefit issues and general budgeting.

The CAB (Citizens Advice East Devon) is a local charity staffed largely by volunteers, providing free advice on a wide range of problems to anyone needing help.

CAB receives no government funding; the service depends on grants and donations.

New volunteers are currently being recruited to join the dedicated and friendly team in Exmouth. No experience is needed; full training and support is provided.

Practical support is provided to people so that they know their rights and responsibilities and can deal with a wide range of issues, including money management, benefit entitlement and appeals, family, employment, housing and consumer issues, often helping the most vulnerable in society.

CAB works with organisations like Exmouth Community Larder to make sure everyone can access help. It is located at 36A Rolle Street, Exmouth EX8 2SH, open Monday to Friday,10.00 am to 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm. For more information see www.eastdevoncab.org.uk or Twitter @CABEastDevon.

The Open Door Centre Cafe also has trained support workers for those who need advice or support regarding benefits, financial difficulties, housing or homelessness, addictions, domestic abuse or other issues. If they cant help, they will try to suggest an alternative organisation that may be able to.

Open Door has showers, clothing, bedding and laundry facilities available for those who are homeless. It is are located at Church Street, Exmouth, EX8 1PE and is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30am to 3:00pm.

EDDC revenue and benefits department and housing department have desks in the old town hall, which also provide compassionate and sensible help and support to those who may need it.

Many other groups provide support - Exmouth Children's Centre, Devon CC Social Workers and lots more. In The Larder we want to give people a hand up, not just a hand out. We believe that is what our donors would expect us to do; we are just the facilitators of the great generosity of the whole area to help those in difficulties.

Meanwhile, the CAB and others are always looking for volunteers with an appropriate background ....... and The Larder doesn't turn away volunteers either!

Larder update : July 2017

Demand continues much as ever - variable month to month, but a steady average. If you like a good click:- www.exmouthlarder.co.uk/news/larderstats.jpg will show you the month by month graph since we started!

The graph below shows 6 monthly averages - relatively consistent if the peaks at the end of 2015 are added to the beginning of 2016 - about 850 client attendances a year, feeding 1,700 mouths, maybe 20,000 meals a year ...... 90,000 since we started!

6 month usage

We speculate from time to time why attendance varies, but there are no obvious answers. Looking at statistics hides the individual stories and problems that lie behind every person and situation we see.

We braced ourselves against a possible surge following changes in the Benefit system, but apart from individual stories there does not (yet) seem to be any trend.

Food donations have slowed in the summer, as usual. Cash donations enable us to fill gaps on the shelves with least cost purchases, so the stockroom is well supplied. Our volunteers are careful to make sure that supplies are given out in date order.

As always, we give thanks to the whole community for the gifts of food and money that we receive. All money goes towards keeping our shelves supplied; the only exception is payment to the Salvation Army for the use of their hall and facilities.

Larder update : Harvest Festivals - autumn 2017

Donations at Harvest Festival time are especially welcome. It is these which boost our stocks each year, supplemented by the surge over Christmas. We do not have a large stockroom, but we keep reserves on shelves in a dry garage. The generosity of the Exmouth area keeps pace with demand and keeps us supporting the people who need us.

Food donations have been slow, as usual in the summer. Cash donations enable us to fill gaps on the shelves with least cost purchases, so the stockroom is well supplied. Our volunteers are careful to make sure that supplies are given out in date order.

As always, we give thanks to the whole community for the gifts of food and money that we receive. All money goes towards keeping our shelves supplied and clients supported; the only exception is payment to the Salvation Army for the use of their hall and facilities.

New volunteers are especially welcome, with the extra donations at Harvest Festival there is a lot of work to do! Volunteers are always welcome, either temporarily to help us with the rush, or just us for a trial period to see how we work.

Our volunteers divide into those who come on Mondays and those on Fridays, with one or two who cover both. Holidays reduce the numbers on some days - when we are short everyone is busy. When we have more volunteers than work, lively conversations arise with the variety of different backgrounds.

The record was a day when we had just 5 volunteers and 23 people needing help - everyone got the help they needed, but a day to remember and only happened once! The stockroom packs boxes ready to be given out; on that day we started with all ten boxes full and left with them all empty for the next shift to refill!!

On average we have maybe 10 volunteers and up to a dozen people coming for help. The welcome desk is staffed by two of our team with relevant experience, there are one or two packing bags for clients, one or two working in the stockroom, plus several taking in donations and dating them, and a delivery driver in case that is necessary.

There are also many volunteers we never see, who co-ordinate donations from far and wide, including a weekly delivery from the Budleigh area and also churches in Exton, Lympstone and Woodbury - and at Harvest Festival time from schools all around.

Demand continues to be very variable from month to month but the average is surprisingly consistent. We regularly brace ourselves for a surge triggered by changes in the Benefit system, but apart from individual stories we have not seen any trend despite reports of economic uncertainty.

Larder report : September 2017

Mid September demand has been really high, in contrast to the quiet period in August; most likely the average demand will prove to be fairly steady with big variations from month to month that we cannot explain!

Our clients are as varied as ever; becoming disorganised is the main factor. Mental health issues probably affect a good proportion, so please support the Mental Health teams in the area!!. Another common problem is budgeting; balancing income and expenditure, especially when the newer forms of Welfare Benefits are paid monthly.

Of course addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling drag people down; specialist support agencies can help but there are no instant cures.

Some clients lead very ordinary lives, but have been blown off course by a sudden bereavement, a marriage break down - or in one case a partner returning home which caused all Benefits to be cancelled due to a "change of circumstances"!

Clearly our clients are "disorganised", whether temporarily or long term - but the "organisation" of the Welfare System compounds problems for some clients, especially those without internet access or not fluent in computer communication.

No-one works well to sort out problems when hungry or without hope; we see our role as distributing the food generously given by the community whilst encouraging people to get help - maybe giving a firm nudge by insisting they engage with particular support agencies before we give out more food. Occasionally we refuse supplies to someone who has failed repeatedly to engage with the support they need.

We see a need in the community to help people with budgeting and coming to terms with life's problems, including how to prepare healthy meals from least cost fresh ingredients. Society has encouraged people to borrow money to have whatever is wanted and to pay extra for pre-prepared food - all good marketing ploys for the industries concerned, but not helpful to those who find themselves struggling to repay debts incurred when times were good.

The CAB and other groups would welcome volunteers to be trained into supporting roles for the people who need them.

As always, we are truly grateful for the generosity of the whole community of Exmouth and surrounds which enables us to carry on thw work of the Community Larder.

Larder report : Harvest 2017

THANK YOU all Exmouth and surrounds for your Harvest generosity.

We now have a Pasta mountain, so we are happy if pasta donors switch to other items .... but the need continues so please keep supplies coming!

Demand fluctuates as always; August was unusually low, September busy and now October very busy with clients, in addition to our brilliant volunteers dating and sorting incoming Harvest donations which replenish our reserves.

So, as always ..... thanks to all the schools, churches and organisations that have held Harvest Collections.

This enables us to give vital supplies to people and families that need help getting past some crisis.

No-one should feel embarrassed asking for help from The Larder, very few of us get through life without a crisis (or two). Giving help is why we are here and why the community gives so generously.

When back on their feet, we have clients who give back to us, either giving donations or volunteering or both.
Thank You pic

So .... we continue. Sorry if reports become boring - the details of individual clients are always different. Treating a client as a person of value in the world is sometimes the most important contribution we can make - though some food does help! But the general need continues the same ..... thanks for your continuing support.

Larder report : November 2017

Thank you all once again for your Harvest generosity. We are now full of beans, swimming in soup, as well as the pasta mountain and tons of tuna!! But please do keep donations coming - basic tinned vegetables (peas, carrots and corn), tinned fruit and custard are relatively short - and we do not know what lies ahead; everything is suitably dated and stored, so it is prudent to maintain a good reserve.

Christmas falls on a Monday this year, and The Larder will be CLOSED. We will be open the Friday before Christmas, the Friday after, and also with a skeleton staff on New Year's Day, which is also a Monday.

Demand for October was very close to the October of all previous years, continuing the random ups and downs. News reports of problems over Universal Credits are reflected in the reasons people give for needing help, but overall numbers are not yet changing. Economic, Brexit and job reports in the news leave us wondering what will happen next - prudence tells us to carry on as before, but to maintain good reserves - all with your amazing help and support!!

The graph shows annual usage so far; 2017 is estimated from first 10 months of the year. The full statistics are on the website as usual (www.exmouthlarder.co.uk).

Budgeting and debt problems continue to be difficulties for the people we support, not helped by the overload experienced by the CAB. The CAB welcomes more volunteers - they give training and the main qualifications are reliability and common sense!! Go to: www.eastdevoncab.org.uk/ for more.
Annual Usage

As always, THANKS to you all for the continued generosity from the whole area and good wishes for Christmas and its festivities. Please remember we do NOT give out anything alcoholic; our mandate is to provide basic food all year round rather than festive hampers - so please go easy on mince pies etc. but keep the basics coming!!

Larder report : Christmas 2017

Happy Christmas to all .... to our generous donors who keep us in supplies, to our regular volunteers who make everything run smoothly and the even greater number who bring supplies from various churches and other collection points.

Happy Christmas especially to those we never see .... those in support agencies who share our concern for people in trouble and "Santa's Elves" who bring supplies unseen all year round from the Budleigh churches and other collection points.

And, of course, a Happy Christmas to our clients and all those facing adverse circumstances this Christmas.

God chose rough sleepers on the hillside above Bethlehem to bring the most amazing news that He had come on earth - people at the bottom of the socio-economic scale of their time, almost outcasts - no tinsel or turkey at all ....

5 years on after our beginnings in November / December 2012, we are regularly providing supplies to people in a food crisis from an area roughly bounded by Otterton, Budleigh, Woodbury and Exton, though mainly of course Exmouth itself.

Over 5 years our way of working has evolved, mainly through individuals having better ideas how to work. It now runs fairly smoothly, and we are proud to have been used as an example for the Community Larder set up in Torquay. Some volunteers have been with us the whole time, others have come and gone - and sadly one or two well remembered colleagues from the early days have died.

Over 5 years demand has fluctuated month to month, but the rounded average has not changed so very much .... "updated monthly statistics" accessible from the front page of the website show all the ups and downs.

Community generosity over 5 years has given us reserves, so we can face an uncertain future with equanimity.

Support agencies continue to help people, referring by email or giving vouchers to those they see in need. We have people arriving without referral and the agencies, particularly the CAB, are there to support them with budget and other problems.

There is a lot of talk about problems with the Benefit system and general economic uncertainty - but we have not yet seen any great change. The one political issue that is most apparent to The Larder is the need for stronger Mental Health support - but even politicians on all sides have understood that need ........

So, a Happy 2018 to all - we go forward with hope that things will get better and reserves to give us confidence whatever happens - especially with the support and generosity of the community at large

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