Free emergency food parcels available for the most vulnerable in Banbury

Citizens Advice and partners have launched a free food parcels delivery service for the vulnerable in Cherwell.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 11:33 am
Updated Monday, 23rd March 2020, 5:32 pm
Nathan Emerton with one of the food parcels that will be delivered to the vulnerable in Banbury

The partnership, which links Citizens Advice North Oxfordshire and South Northamptonshire (CANOSN) with SOFEA and Nathan Emerton, who leads one of the Banbury Facebook Covid-19 groups, to deliver free emergency food parcels to the vulnerable. The project will begin in Banbury.

This emergency delivery service will supply non-perishable food and basic essentials to people who are self-isolating because they are in coronavirus high risk groups – and those who have already contracted Covid-19.

The delivery service will begin on Wednesday (March 25) and is supported by SOFEA (the South Oxfordshire Food and Education Academy which provides the food parcels), Banbury Town Council, Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council.

Citizens Advice Chief Exec Pat Coomber-Wood said: “In addition to food, some people will need items such as soap, toilet paper and sanitary towels. We have set up a fundraising initiative so that we can bulk purchase them. Donations can be made by online at www.canosn.org.uk.“

She said: “People who need parcels should call our telephone answering service on 0300 3030 125 and leave their names and telephone numbers so we can call them back and our team of volunteers will do the rest”

“Volunteer drivers will collect the parcels from our depot and deliver them to clients’ doorsteps. They will ring the doorbell and move two metres away. If the client does not open the door to retrieve the parcel, the driver will leave the parcel and inform the main office so that a volunteer can follow up to ensure the person has collected the parcel. This also enables us to ensure they are well. If we can’t get hold of them then we will have emergency contact numbers so their emergency contact can be asked to check on them. Drivers and clients will be prohibited from physical contact to prevent cross contamination.”

“Anyone identified as needing more than a food parcel will be linked to appropriate services such as advice, social prescribing, befriending schemes etc.

Ms Coomber-Wood added: “This service is a last resort and only to be used when people have exhausted other local community support projects and have no friends or neighbours who can safely get food for them.”

The town council is giving an initial grant to help buy toiletries and other items that people need in addition to food.

Leader of the council Kieron Mallon said: “This is an important project that we are pleased to support. Many vulnerable people will need these essential deliveries and this grant will enable the Citizens Advice to buy an initial batch of supplies.”

This reputable scheme has also been set up to help stop the increase in scams. Whilst many people are helping their neighbours and friends, which is wonderful, scammers are taking advantage and knocking on doors or offering to help online and then making off with cash or cards, Ms Coomber-wood said.

Citizens Advice is urging people not to give cash or bank cards to strangers, who may show good will, but are actually leaving people out of pocket. It is important to know that banks will not cover any losses if you hand your bank card or give your pin number to someone else, even someone you trust.

Ms Coomber-Wood thanked Banbury Cross Embroidery Ltd for supplying the hoodies worn by the support team and Clair Jarvis for printing the flyers that will be circulated in the food parcels.

To help these efforts residents are asked to consider donating. A donation of just £3 can help deliver additional vital supplies to the elderly and the vulnerable in our community such as toilet paper and other sanitary products that we cannot get donated. Please donate online at canosn.org.uk.

The project needs volunteer drivers to deliver the free food parcels to the community. If you have a car and some time please sign up at canosn.org.uk.

SOFEA is a charity based in Didcot whose mission is to see that the basic human rights of food and education are met for vulnerable individuals and communities.

SOFEA’s food related services, in partnership with Fareshare, rescues and redistributes hundreds of tonnes of food surplus each year to charities throughout the Thames Valley region, supporting people in need whilst reducing food waste. SOFEA are adapting their model in light of this crisis, to support people directly whilst the charities they support have to close their front line services.