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FoodBank Po9’s award-winning COVID response

19/06/2020

13ANK CIC was recently awarded the ‘Best COVID Response’ Award by Havant company FOE Printing after overwhelmingly winning the community’s vote. 13ANK has been supported by Community First to operate FoodBank 3 days a week from Leigh Park Community Centre. Their LunchBank Po9 project is preparing and delivering hot meals from Bedhampton Community Centre.

13ANK projects support the community of Leigh Park, one of the country’s largest and most economically challenged housing estates. Before COVID-19, Foodbank Po9 was supporting 10-20 households per week. Now, they support an average of 45 households per week, and sometimes up to 100. Around 5-6 new service users who had never previously used a food bank are signing up each week. 100% of the effort on the ground comes from volunteers, who organise food parcels at Leigh Park Community Centre and cooked meal deliveries through LunchBank Po9 at Bedhampton Community Centre. FoodBank and LunchBank operate entirely with volunteers on the ground and, until recently, they served the local community with no grant funding.

One of LunchBank’s brilliant volunteers with meals ready for delivery

Now, 13ANK’s projects are supported by a grant from Havant Borough Council, as well as £500 from Greggs to cover volunteer fuel expenses. 13ANK’s amazing efforts have inspired people not just locally, but nationwide. Jennifer Cross, a COVID-19 critical care nurse based all the way in Nelson in Lancashire, braved the shave to raise £1,500 for FoodBank Po9. Jennifer originally met 13ANK Co-Director Darren McKenna while participating in Tortoise Media’s Unheard Voices series. Her fundraising effort is just one example of the brilliant ways that key workers are supporting each other during this challenging time.

Community First, a Hampshire-wide voluntary sector support charity, are also staffing Leigh Park Community Centre 3 days per week for FoodBank. Community First’s Community Development team are supporting 13ANK with bid writing to help the projects meet growing demand during COVID-19. The charity has also offered 13ANK use of kitchen equipment and donated £250 for food and essentials, as well as providing moral and professional support.

13ANK Director Darren McKenna at Leigh Park Community Centre

Director Darren McKenna said,

“13ANK have been feeding up to 100 families a week during the height of the pandemic through our LunchBank and FoodBank projects in the Po9, thankfully we are now able to begin scaling this back as our community enters the new normal. Our FreeBank project has reopened to further support homes in this recovery phase with furniture, clothing and toys. We are indebted to our community for the donations we received to support us during this time, and the support we will no doubt continue to receive. We would also like to thank Community First for the use of their venues, practical and moral support and the very generous £200 they gave us to help toward equipping our volunteers with essential PPE. We look forward to developing our relationships as we begin to rebuild our community.”

13ANK’s above-and-beyond efforts have made a huge positive impact on the local community, but they are looking to recruit more helping hands as previous volunteers start returning to work. LunchBank Po9 is looking for volunteer chefs to help prepare hot meals for families. If you can help, please contact 13ank.cic@gmail.com or call 07593 261200.

People who would like to be involved with FoodBank Po9 or keep up with the latest news can join their Facebook group. If your community group needs support or volunteers during the current pandemic, please contact Community First at support@cfirst.org.uk.

 

Statement from Darren McKenna, Director of 13ANK

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