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Community First and 13ANK address pandemic food poverty

22/04/2020

We have joined forces with 13ANK to support families in Leigh Park and surrounding who are facing food poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic. 13ANK is the Community Interest Company that coordinates Foodbank PO9 among other local projects, to help supply residents of the Havant PO9 postcode area with food and other household essentials. The project is currently based in Community First’s Leigh Park Community Centre (LPCC), which is closed to the public for usual purposes but remains staffed 7 days per week as a food hub.

13ANK, community centre staff, and local volunteers are currently operating the Foodbank service on Tuesdays and Fridays, but are on hand to arrange emergency support outside of these times. Usually, the team provides one-off deliveries to help families who are at home shielding during the pandemic. Services are also available for those in need of ongoing support. The new Lunchbank project is one such example. The service was slated to rally the community to cook meals together made from local produce and reducing food waste, with customers purchasing at a pay-it-forward rate so that families in need can receive free meals. An adapted version of the service launched to meet local needs during the pandemic. Lunchbank clients receive calls once or twice per week to establish their needs. Safely organising the logistics of the food hub around the pandemic has been a challenge, but the dedication and creativity of the team on the ground have paid off for those who urgently need supplies and meals. The service runs with as few volunteers as possible and with PPE available.

Together, the Foodbank and Lunchbank service are a lifeline for many Leigh Park families, helping to fill what would otherwise be a concerning gap in the food supply. Before COVID-19, Foodbank Po9 was supporting 10-20 households per week. Now, they support 35-50 households per week, with around 5-6 new service users who had never previously used a food poverty service signing up each week. One local resident emailed his thanks directly to Community First’s CEO Tim Houghton, praising the selection of delivered food: “Thank you, I’ve received it and it’s well-appreciated. Everything is fantastic.”

Community First is supporting 13ANK with guidance, advice, funding bids, and staffing. Havant resident Leah Moore is a Director at 13ANK, and works as Leigh Park Community Centre Coordinator for Community First. Leah is now using some of her Community First hours to help 13ANK with social media, marketing, and bid writing for the food hub services. Leah said, “The support 13ANK has received from Community First during this time has been invaluable. 13ANK CIC being in its infancy at the start of a global pandemic meant that its projects were still entirely unfunded and volunteer-led with no paid staff or even expenses. The COVID-19 crisis has meant that demand has increased and changed significantly. Community First’s support and guidance to help us bid write, explore new avenues and introduce us to new possibilities will not only mean the service will be able to continue to be on the ground feeding those that most need it during this emergency, but also that the 13ANK projects will continue to grow and help people beyond this time.”

If your food bank, community group, or charitable organisation needs support, we can help. Contact support@cfirst.org.uk or 0300 500 8085 to be matched with willing local volunteers in your area or to find out about other ways Community First can support you.

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