Observer Christmas Appeal: Help people feel their family

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DECEMBER is here and Christmas is fast approaching.

It is a time of joy and goodwill for people. However, for many it is also a time of stress, worry and counting the pennies.

Foodbanks tend to see a rise of people in the winter months as seasonal work dries up, plus utility bills rise as the temperature drops and there is a greater call to spend money.

For many, having to make a decision whether to buy food for yourself or presents for your family becomes a reality.

This is where foodbanks can help.

“Things have picked up since the end of September definitely,” said Andrew Poulsom, distribution manager at the Chichester Foodbank, in Orchard Street.

“The winter is always busier for us. You need to eat more anyway just to keep warm.

“Christmas can be difficult for families. They’re always torn between buying presents for their children and feeding themselves.”

People are drawn to foodbanks when they are at their lowest ebb and have nowhere else to turn, which is why it is so important for people to make donations to help those in need.

“You have to be desperate to have to come to get food aid,” said Andrew.

“People find it really difficult, particularly the first time, to come through that door and say ‘I can’t feed my family, I need help’.

“They’ve got to be in some sort of crisis to get to that low ebb.”

He said it could happen to anyone. All it needs is people to have a string of bad luck and fall on hard times. Sometimes, those who are helped by the foodbank come back when their situation has recovered to donate food equivalent to what they took when they needed it.

The foodbanks have seen their use rise greatly in recent years and particularly around Christmas time they find they are needed even more to help people.

In the coming weeks, the Observer will examine some of the fantastic work that takes place.

Remember, keep an eye out for collection points and help those who need it most.

Foodbanks in the area

CHICHESTER and BOGNOR REGIS both have foodbanks, with the Chichester branch now also having satellite offices in Selsey, Midhurst and Petworth.

The Chichester Foodbank is found at the Chichester Family Church, 21 Orchard Street, PO19 1DD.

It is open from 2pm-4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Bognor Foodbank is found at Argyle Hall, Argyle Road, PO21 1DY

It is open from 11am-4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Selsey satellite is open from 4pm-6pm on Friday and is in the Selsey Methodist Church, High Street, PO20 0QJ.

The Petworth satellite office is mobile and food is brought straight to those in need.

Call 07501 921617 between 9am-5pm on weekdays.

The Midhurst satellite office is in St Anne’s Hall, St Anne’s Hill, GU29 9NN.

It is open from 3pm-5pm on Fridays.

For more information, visit http://chichesterdistrict.foodbank.org.uk or http://bognorregis.foodbank.org.uk.

Alternatively, call 01243 773687 for the Chichester office and 01243 866952 for the Bognor office.

Where to drop off food

SEVERAL collection points exist at supermarkets and churches, with lists available giving people pointers over some of the best things to buy.

Canned goods are helpful as they last for longer, along with other items with distant use-by dates. The foodbank provides a list of ideal shopping items:

- Milk (UHT or powdered)

- Sugar (500g)

- Carton of fruit juice

- Soup

- Pasta sauces

- Sponge pudding (tinned)

- Tomatoes (tinned)

- Cereals

- Rice pudding (tinned)

- Tea bags

- Instant coffee

- Instant mash potato

- Rice

- Pasta

- Meat (tinned)

- Fish (tinned)

- Vegetables (tinned)

- Fruit (tinned)

- Jam

- Biscuits and snack bars

There are collection points in Waitrose, in Chichester, and Co-op stores, as well as by the main entrance to Chichester Cathedral.

In Bognor Regis, both the Sainsbury’s and Tesco in Shripney Road have collection points, as well as the Morrisons store in the town centre and Co-op stores in Hawthorn Road, Rose Green Road and Nyetimeber Lane, plus the Co-op in Yapton.

If you can, spend an extra few pounds and make a donation. You never know when you might need the same kindness yourself.