Soaring demand for Haywards Heath Foodbank prompts search for new premises
Demand for Haywards Heath Foodbank has soared so much over the past months that larger new premises are now needed.
This year the number of families in crisis helped by the foodbank rocketed to 3,205 between April and November, compared with 1,346 last year.
Barry Prior, chairman of the foodbank trustees said: “This is a phenominal increase measured against the same period last year and exceeds the whole of the previous year by some distance with four months still remaining.”
In the eight months between April and November more than 28 tons of food have been donated, and almost 24 tons distributed in the district.
The foodbank currently has three sites one off Janes Lane, Burgess Hill and two separate units on Ditchling industrial estate but now needs to find larger premises.
When the first lockdown struck the team was forced to temporarily close the foodbank because of health and safety regulations but it was back with a delivery-only service two weeks later.
Since then, said Barry “everybody has been working at full stretch.”
And families unable to buy food have told the team how thankful they are for the service. One said: “I can’t express how deeply grateful we are, just know it has meant so much. Thank you so much. With love from xxxxxxxx & the dog x”
Another said: “We just wanted to say thank you again for helping us in this difficult time, you truly are angels. Lots of hugs xxxxxxx and family xx”
Barry added: “Support from the local community has been outstanding and we must thank everyone for their contributions – not just in Haywards Heath but also surrounding villages like Bolnore, Chailey, Cuckfield, Horsted Keynes, Lindfield and Scaynes Hill.”
A volunteer in Balcombe said: “It’s incredible how so many people have stepped up to help struggling families, or donated food in such quantity.
“Here in Balcombe we have been overwhelmed with people’s generosity. They are so eager to do something to help. Makes you realise that there are so many good people in the world who care,”
The team’s longer term vision is to secure an appropriate centrally-based property to house all aspects of Haywards Heath’s Foodbank under one roof – distribution centre/warehouse/administration - with sufficient space and resource to help, support and train more people to become foodbank volunteers.
Barry said: “We have received a large number of cash donations over the past eight months from local individuals and organisations, as well as county, district and town councils. The generosity of our local community never ceases to amaze.
“This significant unexpected income has allowed us to finance the change in operations from the collection to the delivery method, purchase equipment and supplies to protect our volunteers, and buy food when there is a shortage of specific stock items.
“There will be funds remaining to enable us to seriously start looking to rent a property with sufficient space to consolidate our three warehouses and distribution centre into one central location of approximately 1,500sq.ft. near to the town.
“We have made enquiries with local commercial agents without success. Retail units are available but rents are very high. We ask readers of the Mid Sussex Times to please contact us urgently if they know of any suitable premises.”
Anyone who can help should call 07884 106719 or email [email protected] Haywards Heath Foodbank is a part of the Trussell Trust national foodbanks network.