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Christmas Appeal: Medway Foodbank supported by Messenger

By Ed McConnell

The Medway Messenger has this week launched its Christmas campaign as staff aim to support people doing great work in this community.

There are almost 280,000 people in Medway and last year 5,559 of those couldn't afford to feed themselves on at least one occasion.

It's a situation the vast majority of us probably can't comprehend but it's one which, based on information from elsewhere, is likely to become far more common with the roll out of Universal Credit (UC).

That's why the work Medway Foodbank is doing is so important.

Last year 50,000 meals were given out
Last year 50,000 meals were given out

Working under the belief no one in the community should go hungry, last year it provided visitors with three meals a day for three days, that's 50,000 in total.

It's a figure which has rocketed by 26% in the last two years and while there has been a slight decrease in the last six months it's feared UC may see another spike in use.

Nationally the Trussell Trust (the umbrella organisation for many UK foodbanks) has seen a 52% rise in the use of foodbanks in areas where UC — which combines all benefits into one but has seen payments delayed — has been brought in.

For this year's Christmas Appeal the Messenger has chosen to support the foodbank.

It operates from eight centres in the Towns, takes referrals from 120 agencies and relies on the dedication of 150 staff.

Volunteers at the food bank with Christmas food and chocolates
Volunteers at the food bank with Christmas food and chocolates

In total 90% of the food it received last year was from people in the Towns' meaning your contributions would be absolutely vital for a charity heading into an uncertain time.

Project manager Lorraine Schulze said: "We once again would like to thank the public for their generosity after we came back from Tesco this weekend with 80 crates of food.

"It also costs a lot to keep the warehouse running throughout the year so money is always welcome.

"There tends to be an increase at Christmas and when it gets colder."

Currently the foodbank is in urgent need of coffee, long-life milk, instant mash, sugar, shampoo and washing powder or liquid.

Tinned ham, Christmas pudding and cake, mince pies, sweets and chocolate, biscuits, savoury snacks, nuts or nibbles, stuffing mixture and Christmas sauces are all in short supply and are requested with long shelf lives.

Soup, baked beans, pasta and sauce, rice, baby food, teabags and feminine hygiene and sanitary products are not needed at the moment.

Medway Messenger Editor Matt Ramsden
Medway Messenger Editor Matt Ramsden

Donations can be made at the Asda stores in Maidstone Road, Chatham, and Pier Road, Gillingham, Morrisons in Knight Road, Strood, and at the Tesco stores in Courteney Road, Gillingham, and Charles Street, Strood.

Alternatively between 9am and 3.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and between 9am and 1pm on Thursdays food can be taken to the foodbank's warehouse in unit 19, Riverside One, Sir Thomas Longley Road, Medway City Estate, Strood.

Messenger editor Matt Ramsden said: "For very good reasons, we will always steer clear of being political.

"But that doesn't mean we won't work hard to highlight an issue which is as heartbreaking as it is shameful.

"People having to queue for food is something we all thought belonged to the past.

"However, on a regular basis our pages include pictures and articles about such people in need.

"In this day and age, in a country as wealthy as ours, it's simply not right so many people need help to feed their families.

"By choosing the Medway foodbank for our Christmas campaign, we're hoping to encourage readers to help the volunteers who are doing such great work."

The centres are at:

St Nicholas Church, High Street, Strood on Tuesdays between 11.30am and 2.30pm

Peninsular Methodist Church, Allhallows Road, Lower Stoke on Thursdays between 10am and noon

St Justus Church, The Fairway, Rochester on Tuesdays between 10.30am and 12.30pm

Salvation Army Centre, Church Street, Chatham on Mondays between 10.30am and 1pm and on Fridays between 10.30am and 1pm

Twydall Evangelical Church, Goudhurst Road on Tuesdays between noon and 2.30pm and Fridays between 10.30am and 1pm

Chatham Evangelical Church, Ordnance Street on Wednesdays between 10.30am and 3.45pm

The Net Community Cafe, Silverweed Road, Weedswood on Thursdays between 9.30am and noon

St Mark’s Church, Canterbury Street, Gillingham on Thursdays between 1pm and 3pm and Saturdays between 10am and noon

Go to medway.foodbank.org.uk for more or to donate money.

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