A mother who only had a bottle of milk left to feed her child helped volunteers from a church in Horley realise the need for a food bank in the town.
Now, after months of work, the Churches for Horley food bank has been launched at Horley Methodist Church, in Victoria Road.
“We became aware of the need for a food bank through people coming into our church asking for food who had very little. On one occasion a mum had only a bottle of milk left for her child and at that point we didn’t have any food stored at church.”Volunteer Diane Collins
The team hand out packages of emergency food and toiletries to people referred to them by local support agencies.
Volunteer Diane Collins said: “We became aware of the need for a food bank through people coming into our church asking for food who had very little.
“On one occasion a mum had only a bottle of milk left for her child and at that point we didn’t have any food stored at church.
“In addition, we were approached by a local health visitor who had mapped the food banks in the area and it had highlighted that Horley did not have any provision despite there being many people known to be in need.”
Until the Horley Methodist Church food bank opened, those in need had to travel to Crawley, Redhill, Woodhatch or Merstham for help.
Figures from the Trussell Trust charity, which provides emergency food and support to people in crisis, showed a massive rise in the number of people in the south east who use food banks.
In 2013/14, the figure was 91,974 people, of which 33,879 were children.
That was more than double those of the previous year when 44,951 people used food banks, including 16,850 children.
Diane said: “Every one that has come in so far has a story and their own reasons for using a food bank.”
The food bank is open on Wednesdays from 12.30pm- 2.30pm and Fridays from 2pm-4pm and is staffed by volunteers from the Horley churches.
Access is by referral only and food parcels will only be issued upon presentation of a voucher which will have been issued by a local referring agency.
The amount of food offered will be dependent upon the number of people in a family.
Diane added: “From conversations with other food banks we expect it to take between three and six months to be fully up and running as it takes a while for agencies to start making referrals.
“Much of our work at the moment is raising awareness that we are now open and once this gains momentum we know that we will begin to fully meet the needs of those who are in need.”
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or if you wish to donate food it can be taken into Horley Methodist Church during food bank opening hours or on a Saturday between 10.30am and 12.30pm.