Maxine our intern visited Hangleton and West Blatchington Food Bank and here is a snapshot of her experience…

Hangleton and West Blatchington Food Bank is an amazing project which aims to provide food to individuals and families living in the Hangleton area, who find themselves in crisis or urgent situations. Operating once a week on Wednesdays between 12:30 and 2:30, Zoe the project coordinator along with a dedicated team of volunteers create a very positive and friendly environment at the food bank. FareShare’s food is used here to make up the contents of the food parcels which are given out to clients that have had a referral to use this service.

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When speaking to the incredible Zoe who manages the project fantastically, she noted that around 80% of the food that the food banks receives comes from FareShare Sussex, along with smaller donations from local collection point, the Tesco food cloud initiative and Waitrose. The food parcels usually consist of tinned goods, pasta, rice, cooking sauces along with toiletry products of which their importance is often forgotten about. As well as non-perishable items, some added extras are offered to the clients from the variety of products they receive from FareShare each week. Alongside giving out food parcels this project also provides free chilled food as well as tea and coffee to have while beneficiaries sit down and wait for their food to be packed up.

Making a difference

Zoe introduced me to one of the clients who had visited around 10 times and was really positive about this project. She felt that the lovely volunteers at Hangleton food bank were very welcoming and didn’t make her feel ashamed or uncomfortable, feelings which had prevented her from using food banks in previous years due to the stigma attached. Being in such a position can be embarrassing she explained to me but she was glad to have found this project which treats its clients which such kindness and respect.

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The client expressed how much the food that the food bank provides means to her as it keeps her going and how the extra bit of support makes every difference to ease the strain. Without this food, many of these clients would go hungry; in fact one client that arrived with sadly not having eaten for 4 days.

‘Without the support for FareShare, Hangleton and West Blatchington food bank would really struggle and it would be almost impossible for us to provide the services that we currently do.’  Zoe, project coordinator

It’s a lot more than just food parcels

It is important to note that this project provides much more than just a food parcel. On top of this, every month or so various other services will come along to the food bank such as MIND, a money advice service and Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative in order to offer clients free and impartial advice.

IMG_5002All the volunteers are so full of energy and so willing to help out. There are around 30 in total that work with Zoe, some of which volunteer most weeks or some just once a month. All of them went above and beyond to help every single person to attend to their needs which made it feel like a very personal experience. The volunteers were exchanging stories and chatter as well as offering an extra item or two if they knew the client had children or others to care for too. One thing that stuck the most was the huge amount of thankyous and smiles at the door as clients left with their bags full of food.  This made it clear to me how valuable this project is to the clients, they were so grateful of everything Zoe and her team do.