Fair Frome provides a range of support for people experiencing disadvantage in Frome. This includes a food bank, furniture bank, and regular programme of free hot meals. We provided an urgent grant to help them respond to unprecedented demand for their foodbank as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Bob Ashford, the charity’s Chair, told us more about how Fair Frome are responding.
“Our immediate issue is that we are currently facing a three-fold increase in demand for food. It’s become very hard to source the key items we need; many of our existing volunteers are older people and have been self-isolating for a couple of weeks already.
We started up a delivery service last week, and we’ve recruited some new volunteers, but of course, putting that in place – it takes time. We have to run checks and train them up. Unfortunately, some of those new people have now left and are in self-isolation. So, we have a much higher demand and a team we need to keep reviewing.
On top of that, our premises is small, and we need to respect the 2 metre distancing rule. We’re all working seven days a week and we’re all exhausted.
The people we help here are all referrals from organisations such as Citizens Advice, the Job Centre, social workers and educational establishments. They tend to be those on low incomes and experiencing poverty, and often those with health problems. In addition to our regular service users, we are now seeing new people through the door. These are people who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak and are waiting for their Universal Credit to come through; people who wouldn’t normally use a foodbank.
We’ll use the funding from the Somerset Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund to put in place new initiatives. We’re starting to buy the food we can’t source through donations, and we’ll be issuing additional food vouchers that people can use at the local fruit and veg shop. We are also starting to work with a few local schools in the more deprived areas, to look at how we can help them distribute food and vouchers to families in need.
At this very difficult time, this funding from Somerset Community Foundation is an absolute lifeline. Without our service and this grant there are people who would go hungry.”
Wednesday 25 March, 2020.