Wokingham Borough Mayor, Cllr Caroline Smith, has been busy supporting her chosen charity by volunteering at the Wokingham Foodbank.
Cllr Smith spoke with volunteers and helped to sort donated items at the foodbank, which is based in Wokingham town and has experienced increasing demand in recent months.
Wokingham Foodbank is a project founded by local churches and community groups, which work together to stop hunger in the borough. It is staffed mainly by volunteers and relies on donations of food, supplies and money to help those in need.
The Mayor traditionally chooses a local charity to benefit from fundraising during their year in office. The foodbank is supported by dozens of volunteers and last year provided assistance to 4,759 people.
Cllr Smith said: “I was delighted to visit the Wokingham Foodbank and show my support for my chosen charity of the year. It was a pleasure meeting all the dedicated volunteers who care greatly for this cause and understand how important it is.
“Although Wokingham Borough is seen as an affluent area, there are still those who are not able to afford everyday essentials like food and fuel. The importance of the foodbank is likely to grow this winter as residents grow concerned about the cost of living.
“It is therefore essential that our residents who are more fortunate continue to show kindness and donate their time, money and food items to this incredibly worthy local cause. I am thankful to have seen some of this generosity first-hand while visiting, but more offers of help will always be appreciated.”
During her visit, the Mayor spent time talking to volunteers about how the foodbank operates and listened to their concerns about struggling households and how residents are dealing with the cost of living. She then joined regular volunteers to help sort and date donations.
Annette Medhurst, the manager of Wokingham Foodbank, said: “We were thrilled when we were chosen to be the Mayor’s charity this year. It was great to welcome Caroline to our foodbank and have the opportunity to talk with her about our work.
“She had a real understanding of the challenges we face as a charity. We talked about how we can raise awareness so that residents can access our support. We also discussed ideas for community fundraising. The number of referrals we are receiving is on the rise, so it was great to have an extra pair of hands. We really appreciated Caroline getting stuck in and helping out.”
During August, the foodbank received 206 referrals for households who struggle to afford the cost of food and other essentials. Responding to these requests provided emergency support to 576 people.
August is normally the charity’s quietest month, but referrals went up by 130 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The foodbank also offers a ‘fuelbank’ scheme, providing gas and electricity top-up vouchers for people experiencing fuel poverty. In August, the fuelbank received 113 referrals for emergency energy support vouchers. This represents a 371 per cent increase when compared to last August.
Donation points for Wokingham Foodbank are at: Tesco Wokingham; Morrisons Wokingham; Waitrose Wokingham; Sainsbury’s Winnersh; Poundstretcher Wokingham; and Sainsbury’s Local Wokingham.
The foodbank may also be able to help refugee families and their hosts if they are in Wokingham Borough and they first contact their caseworker, or Citizens Advice Wokingham.
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