18th September 2020 | Covid-19

Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey visits the Foodbank at St Matthew’s, Redhill

The Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux, visited the Foodbank at St Matthew’s in Redhill on Friday 11th September to thank volunteers for their hard work and to hear how this life-changing community initiative has been supporting hundreds of individuals and families who are in dire need throughout the Covid-19 crisis.  

 During his visit, the Lord-Lieutenant saw where the food and essentials are donated, stored and sorted and met volunteers and clients, hearing their lockdown stories first hand. The Foodbank gave out 1,815 client foodbags between 23rd March and 31st July which showed it operating at 380% of previous volumes (compared with 2019).  

 He also saw the planned location (subject to planning approval) of two portacabins, which will be used as the new operational base for the Foodbank and for storage of donations. Even more call for the Foodbank’s services is anticipated once furloughing ends in October and further redundancies kick in. This new facility is vital if volunteers are to keep pace with the needs of those living locally who are going hungry because they don’t have enough money to feed themselves and their families.

 During lockdown, the Foodbank at St Matthew’s helped 100 to 120 local families and individuals per week, handing out all sorts of food and essentials including baby milk, baked beans, pasta, tinned food and packet meals. It continues to help nearly 100 households locally per week. Clients are referred via many professional agencies and community groups, with whom the Foodbank works collaboratively.

 The Lord-Lieutenant told the volunteers; “I feel uplifted and humbled by this extraordinary work. What strikes me is the wonderful family atmosphere at the Foodbank, which is run in an extremely efficient way – it is very impressive. I have been absolutely overwhelmed this morning by the Foodbank volunteers’ enthusiasm, hard work and commitment to helping others. 

 “One of the biggest positives to come out of the Covid-19 crisis is communities working together. Surrey has always been good at volunteering and this Foodbank demonstrates peoples’ willingness to help others. We should all try to retain that spirit after the pandemic is over.”

 During this visit, the Lord-Lieutenant talked with three of the clients for whom the Foodbank at St Matthew’s has been a lifeline over the past months. All of them explained what the donations and the personal support mean to them. 

 David told him; “This is my first visit to the Foodbank since lockdown. I was in a desperate situation after going without food for six weeks and the Foodbank deliveries to my home helped saved my life. The volunteers do a magnificent job and I can’t thank them enough. Without them I would not be here today. They have given me confidence and hope to carry on.”

Single mother, Sandra said; “The Foodbank staff are amazing. My family and I would not have survived without them over lockdown.” 

Steven brings home-grown fruit and vegetables as his way of thanking the Foodbank volunteers for the help he has received. 

The Lord-Lieutenant also met nine-year-old Grace Wigley who recently walked 19km up Mount Snowdon raising over £1,000 for the Foodbank, along with her school friend Sadie Maisonneuve who raised the same amount for the mental health charity, Mind. This was the ideal opportunity for the Foodbank to thank Grace in person for such a wonderful achievement. 

Father Andrew Cunnington said; “We are so very grateful for the time and interest shown by the Lord-Lieutenant in visiting us today to find out more about what we do. Our team of volunteers – many of whom stepped up for the first time during the pandemic – do a magnificent job here and this sort of recognition of their commitment is such an encouragement at a time when we are still working so hard to keep pace with the food poverty needs in our community.”


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