Pulling together to get food to vulnerable families in time of crisis

Struggling families in West Somerset are getting food delivered to their door during the coronavirus emergency thanks to volunteers and community groups working together.

Food parcels are being distributed to households in some of Somerset’s most deprived areas in a joint initiative involving volunteer groups, led by community youth hub Minehead EYE with the support of West Somerset Opportunity Area, West Somerset Opportunity Advice Bureau and Somerset County Council.

Key to the operation are volunteers like furloughed charity worker Katrina Midgely (pictured). She is driving all the way to Bristol on a voluntary basis to collect the food parcels from national charity Fareshare on behalf of Minehead EYE and WSAB.

Her employer Engage, a Somerset charity which supports voluntary organisations, is allowing her to use her works van to make the trips.

Community Interest Company (CIC) Minehead Eye has a licence to collect the supplies from Fareshare and is co-ordinating the distribution operation with local groups. The centre normally runs youth groups across West Somerset and is also a base for Somerset County Council health visitors and counsellors.

The organisation was already working closely with the West Somerset Opportunity Area Programme and through this collaboration they already had their licence in place which enabled them to be ahead of the game when the virus lockdown was put in place.

Despite being closed for face-to-face groups and meetings during the current emergency, the centre is still offering a wealth of advice and guidance to young people, as well as lockdown activities.

Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Frances Nicholson said: “We’re seeing some fantastic teamwork to ensure vulnerable families get vital food supplies, and this is yet another great example.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved, especially those volunteers giving up their time to help families when they need it. The community spirit has been amazing.”

Minehead Eye’s Community Development Manager Paul Matcham said the food parcel operation demonstrated “excellent partnership working”.

“We’re proud to be a part of this fantastic community initiative. It’s a team effort involving West Somerset Advice Bureau, Minehead Food Cupboard, as well as the village agents, Engage and Homestart, with the aim of making sure local families in remote areas and in desperate need have enough food.

“Thanks to everyone involved it’s working really well but we couldn’t do it without Katrina and the other volunteers giving up their time.”

*To find out how to get a food delivery contact West Somerset Food Cupboard – co-ordinator is Ann Gibbs. Email foodcupboardws@outlook.com or call 07795 080637. You can also visit the West Somerset Food Cupboard on Facebook.

*Minehead EYE continues to offer support and advice at this difficult time – you can contact youth worker Clare on 07521605796 or message them on Facebook – you’re not alone!

They’ve also come up with a fantastic range of weekly challenges and activities for young people right now – visit http://www.mineheadeye.co.uk for more details.

A single phone number is also available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, makes it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, during the current crisis. Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm.

Submitted by Communications