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Stowmarket foodbank packs 150 Christmas hampers for families in need over the Christmas period





Volunteers at a Stowmarket foodbank are gearing up to hand out more Christmas hampers than ever before.

Over the last few days the team at the Stowmarket & area foodbank have packed 150 hampers, during what they have described as their ‘busiest week of the year’.

Throughout the rest of the year, the foodbank based at Stowmarket community centre, provides crisis parcels for families that have been referred to them by more than 60 local agencies.

Caroline Davies with some of treats which will go into the hampers. Picture: Suzanne Day
Caroline Davies with some of treats which will go into the hampers. Picture: Suzanne Day

These include the Citizens Advice Bureau, the police and social services and councils.

Mike Smith, foodbank co-ordinator, said: “We deliver 30 tonnes of food in a year, it is not a small job, supporting 3,000 families is a lot of hard work.

“It’s a big operation to get it to run smoothly.”

Keith Fergusson busy unloading items for the Christmas hampers. Picture: Suzanne Day
Keith Fergusson busy unloading items for the Christmas hampers. Picture: Suzanne Day

The foodbank was set up 10 years ago by the New Life Family Church charity.

Mr Smith, who is a pastor at the church and trustee of the charity explained: “The ethos of the charity is ‘in the community for the community’.

“And that ethos is why we do what we do, we look to see what we can do in the community.”

This year monthly referrals for crisis parcels has peaked at 140, a figure only previously seen during 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

L - R: David Cotton,Caroline Davies and Keith Fergusson. Picture: Suzanne Day
L - R: David Cotton,Caroline Davies and Keith Fergusson. Picture: Suzanne Day

The festive hampers contain ‘all things christmassy’: mince pies, christmas cakes, sweets and selection boxes for children.

Families that have been nominated for a Christmas hamper will still get crisis parcels as well, if they need them.

On Sunday, December 18, families nominated for a hamper by local agencies, can collect them from the Stowmarket Community Centre.

Some of the food going into the Christmas hampers, which will also include tea bags, fruit juice and tinned items. Picture: Suzanne Day
Some of the food going into the Christmas hampers, which will also include tea bags, fruit juice and tinned items. Picture: Suzanne Day

They will have the chance to meet the Mayor of Stowmarket, have their photograph taken with Santa and enjoy some Christmas carols.

Mr Smith said the festive event will make him think of the ‘real meaning of Christmas’.

Those without cars, or unable to afford petrol, will have their Christmas hampers delivered with help from the Stowmarket Lions club over the coming days.

L - R: David Cotton, Keith Fergusson and Caroline Davies. Picture: Suzanne Day
L - R: David Cotton, Keith Fergusson and Caroline Davies. Picture: Suzanne Day

In the run up to Christmas the foodbank has been collecting donations from schools and businesses in Stowmarket and the surrounding villages.

Mike said: “People are very generous and we get more financial support in December than during any other month of the year.”

“We want to say a big thanks to supporters that have helped us through the good times and the bad.”