Festive meals and treats delivered to struggling families thanks to coronavirus fund grant

FAMILIES on low incomes and struggling with debt will tuck into hearty Christmas meals thanks to a coronavirus fund grant.

Festive meals and treats delivered to struggling families thanks to coronavirus fund grant

The Bus Stop Club in Ferndown will be cooking and delivering more than 50 meals to individuals and families in Ferndown after receiving a grant of more than £1,000 from the Dorset Community Foundation’s Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund. The fund has already distributed more than £800,000 through more than 200 grants to groups across the county.

Susan Sutherland, project manager of the 15-year-old club, said: “We usually have a Christmas dinner here in our centre for the families we work with but this year we can’t do that so we are taking it to their doorstep.”

The charity, based at the Turbary Resource Centre behind the Hope Church in Corbin Avenue, works with dozens of families through its Christians Against Poverty debt help service. It also runs after-school activities, a community store cupboard and anxiety management classes.

Said Mrs Sutherland: “We are a befriending charity and within that we have several things going on. Our main project is Christians Against Poverty, helping people who are in unmanageable debt. We support them on their journey out of debt with one-to-one advice.

“A lot of people contact us when they are at the very end of their tether and are often suicidal. CAP gives them hope and we tell them that we can get it sorted within a few years. We have seen 26 people go debt free since we began CAP and that’s a huge thing for people.”

Aside from support and advice, the charity provides practical help. “We have a big store cupboard here with food donated by Sainsbury’s and the Fare Share scheme from Lidl and Tesco,” said Mrs Sutherland. “People who are struggling can come in every morning and pay a pound to choose a bag of food. It helps them to keep out of further debt while they are paying their debts off.

The group’s after-school activities have been converted into home delivery of craft packs for a young people to 20 families a week. The packs, put together by staff member Lucy Harding, feature games and creative activities. “It’s quite a hard to engage area and Lucy has worked really hard to overcome that so we are really pleased at how that’s developed this year,” said Mrs Sutherland.

The families who receive the packs will also be getting Christmas goodie bags thanks to a donation from Sainsbury’s.

From Monday, the Bus Stop team will be cooking and delivering the meals over three days. Mrs Sutherland said: “By taking these meals out we are helping them to feel that someone is thinking of them and that we care. A lot of them live from week to week and they feel forgotten.

“We are so pleased to get the grant from Dorset Community Foundation because it is covering all our costs. We can do a slap-up meal with meat from the butcher and a lovely bag of treats, just to say ‘you have not been forgotten, we are thinking about you’.”

Dorset Community Foundation chief executive Grant Robson said: “Bus Stop do brilliant work helping families at times of real crisis by providing advice and support that is genuinely life-changing. We’re so pleased to fund these meals so that families don’t feel left out.”

Find out more about the group at here and donate to the Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund here.