Foodbank opens in Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 12:30 07 May 2014 | UPDATED: 15:12 07 May 2014

Harpenden Town sign

Harpenden Town sign

Archant

A foodbank has been set up in Harpenden in response to a need in the town.

The facility opened at the Batford Early Years Centre in Holcroft Road, Harpenden, last Friday (2) as a pilot scheme for the district.

It follows months of planning and preparation after the need for such a facility was identified by local health care providers, social and family support groups.

Warehousing is being provided by Rothamsted Research and the foodbank will be managed by a team of local volunteers. Initially it will be open between 1pm and 3pm every Friday but the hours could be extended over coming months.

The foodbank will operate on the model developed by the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity that does not affiliate itself with any political party and receives no government funding.

It provides assistance to people of all backgrounds and all faiths who are found to be in genuine need. Since 2004 the Trussell Trust has been helping communities nationwide to set up and run foodbanks to support people in crisis.

A spokesperson for the foodbank explained that although the pilot scheme was being set up in Batford, a need had been identified in Redbourn, Wheathampstead and other parts of Harpenden as well.

She explained that family support organisations had identified areas where additional support was needed at times of crisis, such as mother and toddler groups.

She went on: “In some ways it makes it more difficult in what is a largely affluent area if people are in difficulty.”

The spokesperson said that it was not just young families who were struggling but there was also a wider need, for instance people who had just been made redundant or were going through the social services system.

If the scheme is successful it could well be extended into other areas. The spokesperson said: “Potentially this could lead to more opening hours and additional locations once we see how it functions on a day-to-day basis.”

She pointed out that there were other foodbanks operating in the area including at least two in St Albans and the objective was to run the new Batford facility along the same lines although they did not use the Trussell Trust model.

Food donations will be collated and sorted by volunteers at Rothamsted Research and will then be packed in boxes to be given to people in need.

Local care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, Citizens Advice and police will issue vouchers to people whom they identify as needing foodbank support The vouchers can be redeemed at the Batford centre for three days emergency food.

The foodbank is dependent on volunteer support and any residents who can spare a few hours a week to help with sorting and packing food, collecting donations or distributing food at Batford Early Years Centre should contact the foodbank via staadfoodbank@yahoo.co.uk

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