DORSET Community Foundation has awarded £112,000 of grants in partnership with BCP Council to feed vulnerable people living in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole this winter.
It is part of the council’s effort to distribute £2.6 million through its Household Support Fund scheme for families and individuals struggling to feed themselves.
Among the 19 groups to receive grants was Poole Communities Trust, which was awarded £6,700 for Christmas hampers and additional food stock for 125 members of Moor Community Food, a community foodstore project in Turlin Moor. The hampers included a £20 fresh food or meat voucher to be used for Christmas and also over the following couple of weeks.
Trustee Judith Bacon said: “This is always an expensive time of the year and the Moor Community Foodstore was closed for two weeks from 14th December so people needed to plan their budgets carefully.”
Umoja Arts Network in Bournemouth was awarded £3,700 to cover the cost of 180 food parcels for ethnic minority families across the area. Project manager Ebi Sosseh said the parcels contain basic ingredients such as rice, pasta, fruit and vegetables but will make a vital difference to people still suffering the economic effects of the pandemic.
“Our African Caribbean communities and other ethnic minorities continue to be adversely affected by the Covid-19 virus,” he said. “Many of our communities are still struggling to catch up with pre-covid conditions in terms of working hours and because of the transient nature of their work in the service industries such as catering, cleaning, taxi drivers, security, local factories and in call centres. The end of furlough has also meant the beginning of repaying rent arrears and the like.”
Safe and Sound Dorset in Boscombe, which works with dozens of women who have suffered or are at the risk of domestic or sexual abuse, addiction, mental health or isolation, is using a £5,000 grant to give women and their families monthly food parcels to see them through the winter.
Manager Dorothy Pickett said: “Monthly food boxes will supplement and support most of our women, helping them stretch their provisions and finances through the difficult winter months. Many of our women live alone and struggle on single incomes.”
Christchurch Foodbank will use £5,880 grant to hold community suppers for families and individuals between January and March. Manager Tracey Blick said: “Many of our families say from the evening pick up school time, they are alone and once the children are in bed they feel very alone. The meal will hope to bring community, friendships and cross generation interaction.”
Many of our families say from the evening pick up school time, they are alone and once the children are in bed they feel very alone
Poole Waste Not Want Not used a £9,000 grant to pay for Christmas hampers, a new fridge and food stocks. Project manager Erika Sloper said: “As well as providing access to affordable food we are developing other services incuding menu planning on a budget and other social groups to reduce loneliness. We will use part of the money to provide fresh and chilled items to our member with recipe ideas and support with cooking demo classes.
“We need to share the knowledge of how to plan a meal with fresh and wholesome ingredients, our members are individuals, couples and families with daily struggles lack of cooking facilities, income confidence and skills so we’ll help families reduce food poverty and give them the confidence they need.”
Community foundation director Grant Robson said: “We are proud that BCP Council sees us as the right partner to distribute this money after we worked together to distribute £80,000 of its Winter Support Grant funding to 14 community food projects last year. More than 3,000 residents in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole benefitted.”
Cllr Karen Rampton, Portfolio Holder for People and Homes, said: “With the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and increase in food and fuel bills we know that many people will be really struggling and experiencing financial hardship this winter. We are working closely with our partners including Dorset Community Foundation to ensure those households that are most in need can access help.”
Listen below to Erika Sloper from Poole Waste Not Want Not telling BBC Radio Solent’s Dorset Breakfast Show about the grant and how it will help.