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Loughton Seedbed Centre's role in helping people in crisis

Epping Forest Foodbank help to feed families in need
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Epping Forest Foodbank help to feed families in need
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

In a society seemingly fuelled by consumerism and greed, it’s easy to forget the number of people who now rely on food banks in the UK, to simply feed their families in times of crisis. Our Loughton Seedbed Centre customer, Epping Forest Foodbank, knows only too well.  

Helping local people in crisis

Epping Forest Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, which says over 1.6 million people benefitted from 1.3 million food parcels in 2017-18, up 13% on the previous year.

“We work with around 100 partner organisations and referral agencies including health centres, social workers and education establishments. People going through a period of crisis can get a voucher from them and come to one of our distribution points to receive three days’ worth of food,” explains Caroline Macdonald, Trustee of Epping Forest Foodbank. “When people come to our distribution centres in St. Mary’s ChurchDebden Library, or at The Box in Epping, they’re greeted by volunteers and made to feel welcome. They get an opportunity to chat and talk openly about their story; they won’t be judged with us, they’re in a vulnerable situation and we just want to help them.”

Changes to the benefits system

Times have been challenging for low-income families in recent months due to the widely reported changes to universal credit – a change that Epping Forest Food bank know only too well: “The primary reason people come is because of low income. The second most common reason is benefit delays caused by the newly rolled out universal credit. We’re seeing the effects of that as people have to wait for their benefits package to come through. We’ve been going since 2013 and, year on year, we’re feeding more people.”

Working together from the Seedbed Centre

While the foodbank was launched in 2013 to help support families living in the Epping Forest district, the organisation only moved into the Loughton Seedbed Centre in June 2018, not as a food distribution point, but to benefit from its office and storage space: “We moved here on our fifth birthday. The unit has made a huge difference, allowing us to work together, and we like the area because it’s close to our distribution centres. It was important to get the right place and the rolling monthly contract is reassuring.

“We used to operate out of a single garage but we simply didn’t have enough space. The office unit in Loughton doubles up as a warehouse, where we make up the packages as well as emergency food boxes, which go straight to the referral agencies for those in desperate need.”

Families in need

The foodbank donated 1,461 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis in the financial year 2018-19 and the need is increasing: “When you come face to face with people whose lives are on the edge, who can’t feed themselves, it’s a very humbling experience. What we’re doing to welcome them and make them feel loved is a great thing.”

We’re proud to be able to host an organisation as dedicated as Epping Forest Food Bank to their recipients’ needs.

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