2020 reports from Exmouth Community Larder
Note that usage graphs will update to the latest update,
regardless of the text they were set to illustrate!
Community Larder report : January 2020
2019 was a record year. 28% more parcels were given out; 41% more people needed to be fed, an increase in the proportion of families and dependents over the previous average - after the rounded average of previous years had been about the same!!
So THANK YOU once again to the greater Exmouth community for increased donations which have enabled us to continue and maintain reserves. Churches and non-church alike, Lympstone, Woodbury, both Budleighs and Otterton as well as Exmouth itself, thanks to all of you the Community Larder faces 2020 in good shape.
The Salvation Army finally gave us more space in the summer; with the surge in donations we could not have managed without it this autumn and Christmas, and also thanks to the volunteer team keeping abreast of events, and also welcome to the new members!!
The reason for the increased need is unclear; it is easy to blame "Universal Credit" which has become a quick answer to cover all sorts of problems. The delay in Universal Credit really is a serious problem, but there are also troubles caused by drink, drugs, gambling, bad budgeting, mental health and abusive relationships!
The Larder gives a "hand up" not a "hand-out", so we try hard to verify that people coming to us are receiving support and taking steps to get out of the hole they are in. In 2020 we will strengthen our connection with the agencies which do provide support, and lobby our new MP about Mental Health, gambling and the problems in U/C.
Once again, THANK YOU for supporting The Larder - we are just getting YOUR generosity out to the folk who really need it !
Community Larder report : mid February 2020
With increased demand, the foodbank objective remains to provide supplies to people in a genuine "food emergency", but also to ensure active support to recover from their "underlying crisis". We are therefore re-affirming the policy we set back in 2012 - that we should give "a Hand-up, not a Hand-out".
Referrals from statutory bodies, such as EDDC, Devon CC and the NHS imply that the situation is known and monitored. Also, Citizen's Advice, the Open Door Centre and Action for Children (the old Children's Centre) are active in providing advice and support to people in trouble.
As always, anyone is welcome to come to the Foodbank after encouragement from schools, churches, GP practices and others, or just to walk in, and we will help them with their food emergency. However, further visits will need a referral from an agency evidencing that they are engaging with support to overcome their problem.
THANK YOU for the continuing generous level of donations from the community; we continue to be well supplied! However, we are aware of the responsibility to our donors to use this to give needy people a "hand-up", not just an easy "hand-out!!
Our policy has not changed, contrary to some rumours that have been circulating. The report from our first open meeting in November 2012 (available on our website) stated: "We realise that a short term Food Emergency is generally the result of a deeper underlying crisis, so a support agency needs to address that crisis while we in the Exmouth Larder support the immediate food emergency."
In January, demand continues to be strong with 143 parcels given out to feed 264 people, somewhat up on January 2019 which was itself a record year. February so far has continued to be busy. So THANKS to all our hard working and reliable volunteers, committed to make this work and to help others in the community. It is good to report a wide diversity of churches and non church beliefs; a really good mix from all parts of the community, some of whom have experienced problems themselves.
Our relationship with the Salvation Army is being worked out and seems headed to a long term relationship within which the Exmouth Community Larder retains its identity, while retaining the use of the S.A. building and facilities which have been so helpful in our development and for which we continue to be grateful.
There is also a plan to change the name to "Exmouth Foodbank" which describes what we do better than "Exmouth Community Larder", and also to update our logo.
More on that as it happens; we are open to comments!!
Community Larder report : Coronavirus update March 2020
With Coronavirus shortly upon us, the Community Larder plans to continue as close to normal as possible. We do have enough reserves, including the pasta and tins highlighted in "panic buying" reports - but please keep donations coming!! We may have to reduce to basics, but there are people in the world much worse off!
We remind churches and GP practices that they can refer people by email to "email@example.com" using "self-isolation" as the reason for the referral. Those who can afford it will most likely become generous donors in due course!!
(www.exmouthlarder.co.uk home page has referral details)
Otherwise, we will respond to referrals as usual and maintain deliveries where badly needed as and when we can. This will include people who have "self-isolated".
Since we operate on Mondays and Fridays, we will keep these two teams separated so that an instance of a team being asked to "self-isolate" for 7/10 days will not close us down - though we may only have a skeleton staff for a week or two.
More worrying would be a government demand that everyone over 70 stay at home. This would hit us hard as we have a high proportion of volunteers who are fit enough, but over 70, including our delivery drivers.
If shops and gathering points are to be closed we would categorise The Larder as a food provider. We might have to alter our times to avoid too many people at once - but making everyone cluster into a queue outside would not seem to help much.
Our Christian friends tell us that The Lord has a plan, but it would be nice if a prophet could fill in some of the detail ........ or maybe it is up to us to work it out!
The Larder will press on as positively as we can, with our strong experience of support from the whole community - meaning the WHOLE community, Churches, non-church people, social organisations, and businesses including at least one Asian restaurant run by Moslems. We are all people; we are all in this together!
As we worry about ourselves, let's also remember there are many people in serious trouble due to ill health, nothing to do with this virus; also there are those who are prone to severe anxiety - these are indeed anxious times.
My father told the story of someone in an urgent situation who was told "you don't worry enough", to which he replied "you worry, and see if it gets done any quicker".
Community Larder report : April 2020 - CoronaCrisis!
The Coronavirus has changed all our lives; the workings of the Community Larder are no exception. The Salvation Army hall has been re-arranged to allow a small team to keep well distanced while sorting food and organising deliveries.
Many of our long standing volunteers have had to step back due to age or underlying medical conditions, including close relatives of some younger members of the team. Meanwhile, publicity has generated no less than 70 new volunteer applications, including many offering to act as delivery drivers.
To maintain safe working distances, Monday and Fridays have been rearranged so that a morning team, without any visitors present, can sort donations coming in and prepare packages for delivery, with a skeleton team at the usual time to help anyone arriving to collect food. We now push everyone to receive a delivery, but of course there are always a few who have no firm address, so they have to collect.
The Larder is now providing food to anyone who needs it, on the basis that those who are isolating or "shielding" and would normally buy their own, will be generous donors when all this is over!! Demand has obviously increased dramatically!
To cope with the extra demand, we have a session on Wednesdays, sorting food and preparing deliveries for a team of delivery drivers. If the need grows, this is a pattern that can be repeated on other days and times to keep abreast of the need!!
Donations of cash are coming from everywhere - we had one donor in London, who lived in Exmouth years ago, knows foodbanks are short and sent a bank transfer!
Now that panic buying is over, we are mostly able to convert money donations into supplies, and the usual donation boxes in various stores are once again being filled. Of course we miss the many church collection points, but they have become cash donors. We started the crisis with really good reserves - tinned soup, beans, meat and of course cash; and hope they will be replenished when we are back to normal!
We have been supplying about 50 packages a week, mostly delivered, feeding maybe 100 people - but this will surely increase significantly as the crisis continues.
The generosity of donations and people offering to volunteer is very humbling. Our next task is to have more of our new volunteers so well trained on the job that we can to expand and maybe fill gaps if any of the present team need to "isolate"
THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR NOT ONLY KEEPING THE LARDER GOING,
BUT MAKING IT FIT FOR PURPOSE IN A VERY DIFFERENT NEW WORLD!!
We are not measured by the problem, but how we rise to solve it!!!
Larder report : May 2020 - Covid19 gets serious!
April demand was three times greater than any previous April; the first half of May is even busier. The good news is that donations of food and cash have also increased hugely so that our "reserves" have not been tapped into - yet!!
Meanwhile, great thanks go to the current team of mainly new volunteers who are keeping The Exmouth Community Larder going, and thanks to the donors who give them the supplies, working together to provide food to those who are in need, whatever the cause!
More than 80 people have offered to volunteer, either sorting and packing or delivering. This has enabled several teams to be put in place which are able to keep abreast of demand while self-distancing, even though the need has switched almost entirely to delivery - the only complaint is from would-be volunteers who have not (yet) been called upon ..... I am sure their time will come!!
The "old guard" - the volunteers who worked in The Larder for years but retired due to age or health problems - have played an absolutely vital part, creating a culture and a simple but effective way of working. Things are much changed to work with "social distancing" but the essential steps in the chain are the same.
Great credit is due to Ian Margeson, previously Friday team leader, and to Shirley Newcombe, previously deputy Monday team leader, for bringing the present teams together. Andrew Cutler, our Exmouth Salvation Army mission manager, has also played a key part in allowing and organising a very different use of the hall, including key control points for hand sanitization etc.
The future is uncertain; victory by the medics over the virus will surely be followed by a very different world in which many jobs will have disappeared. People who had good jobs with excellent prospects will no longer be needed, and the heavy demand on all foodbanks will continue. One cannot imagine social distancing ceasing to be an issue until there is a reliable vaccine or curative remedies for the virus; these will only be trusted when they have been tested over a period of time, maybe years!
So we are surely facing a brave new world in which The Exmouth Community Larder will never return to its old way of working. We all remember the bottleneck of volunteers rushing to and from the stockroom and the crowd waiting for packages to be organised - that won't work with social distancing!!
We do miss the old friendship and comradeship, but that must wait until social gatherings restart - which is also true for all churches and clubs!!
More details on the website, just updated (15th May 2020) with some pictures!
Larder report : June 2020 - The new normal!
May slightly exceeded April, about 225 parcels in the month serving 475 people, all being delivered; this seems to have become the "new normal".
Our standard food package would cost £16 per person to buy, so 475 people fed is the equivalent of £7,600 per month. Our expanded volunteer and delivery staff do NOT cost about £6,000 per month - because no-one expects to get paid, even for petrol mileage. The Exmouth Community Larder has become a significant enterprise!!
Donations are fortunately more than matching the demand. In May we only needed to spend £1,000 filling gaps on the shelves; mostly the supplies we needed came in from many different sources, Rivermead Post Office, Strand pub, Gig rowing club, the Rugby club, collection points in Tesco and several Co-op stores and a great variety of other collections, often successors to previous church collections.
Covid19 has made big changes to our way of working. We quarantine food donations for 72 hours after arrival - we are told the virus does not persist on any surface longer than that. We have small shifts who work well spaced out sorting deliveries and preparing packages. Delivery drivers minimise personal contacts when their vehicles are loaded and when making deliveries. The working stock is now on tables around the walls of the hall, giving easy access without crowding.
Cash, cheques and BACS donations are also flowing in wonderfully well. Increased demand was more than matched by cash and food donations in May. We use the Salvation Army bank and accounting system, so do not have prompt awareness of generous BACS receipts, so are a little tardy thanking people for them. Sorry!!
Foodbanks will continue to have an important role as this crisis rumbles on. The news now is about declining infections and ending the "lockdown", but the furlough scheme will end, jobs will be lost and whatever the "benefit" system there will be gaps that people fall through, especially those without internet.
Activists are enjoying pulling down statues, but they are missing the many people trapped today in difficult situations by disability, mental health problems, gambling debts, drink and drugs, as well as substandard accommodation or homelessness. There is much work to be done. People being trapped is wrong but not always simple to solve; pulling own statues does not help today's discriminatory problems!
Meanwhile, The Exmouth Community Larder does what it can to give food help to those within our own range of vision and reach -
- all driven by YOUR GENEROSITY!!
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