Members of Pevensey Bay Baptist Church said they have responded to the growing need for emergency food supplies and are opening a food bank for the villages around Pevensey.
Currently the nearest food bank is in Eastbourne, but now people will be able to come to Pevensey Bay Baptist Church in the High Street.
The Pevensey Food Bank will open on Monday (January 19), initially for one day a week from 10am -12 noon.
Organiser Bryan Bladon has assembled a team of keen volunteers to man the food bank because he believes there is a great need in the villages south of Eastbourne, but that much of the social deprivation is hidden.
Mr Bladon said: “The Government keeps saying there is no problem, but there is. The benefits system is putting people into real poverty and hardship, but that means we have an opportunity to help. We want to provide a local centre of compassion and care, and offer a listening ear as well as emergency food supplies.”
The new food bank team hopes to reach housebound older people and plans to connect with district nurses, health visitors and local charities, to identify those in need. Recommendations will come through Social Services, but the Pevensey team will have some discretion to issue their own vouchers, organisers said.The new team members are equipped to offer debt and legal advice and help with any mental health issues. Mr Bladon is a qualified Mental Health officer, having been in Senior Management in South Warwickshire Healthcare Trust, as well as a nurse tutor. Another church volunteer has legal expertise and the church’s new pastor, Rev Edwin Peña, is also a lawyer.
Mr Bladon said: “We can think that people are OK, but behind closed doors there are needs which are not being met. We are here for the people of the Pevensey villages and hope that many will hear of the new food bank.”
The church is working with St Wilfrid’s Church and hopes to work with other churches to cover Stone Cross, Westham and Pevensey, as well as Pevensey Bay. Food and training is being provided by Eastbourne Food Bank.