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Parish church stunned by Trussell Trust decision to move Chatteris food bank

Chatteris parish church ‘has never charged rent’

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Chatteris parish church has been told the food bank it has run for 8 years – and its volunteers – will no longer be needed after the Trussell Trust moves to the Salvation Army in East Park Street. “We don’t know why this decision was taken by the Ely Trussell Trust trustees,” the church said in a statement on their Facebook page.

“However, our hearts and prayers now go out to the volunteers who have been told to stand down.”

The statement said: “For over eight years, the Ely Trussell Trust Food Bank has been served in Chatteris by a team of amazing volunteers including our inspiring team leader, Susan Jude.

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“We want to say ‘thank you’ to all – for your selfless service and faithful commitment over many years!

“Today (May 28) we have received notice that Ely Trussell Trust will close its distribution in the church on Thursday.

“The church has never charged rent and worked closely with many partners to serve the people of Chatteris. “

The statement added: “We also apologize unreservedly, in advance, for the late notice and disruption caused to clients.

“We now understand that the Ely Trussell Trust have made arrangements with the Salvation Army and will continue distribution in Chatteris using paid staff on Mondays.”

Chatteris Food Bank has been open at the parish church on Thursdays from 10-11am.

One parishioner commented on the church Facebook page: “I think the volunteers who have worked behind the scenes have done an amazing job.

“Although I don’t see how going from a space that’s not charged rent wise manned for free to another that is paid rental space plus staff on the payroll, it does seem like monies going away from food elsewhere.”

The parishioner suggested it might be because “government guidelines on the charity are requiring them to run almost like a business like our existing food stores, so staff are health and safety trained in safe lifting handling, storing of foodstuffs.

“I am only making a guess also making sure there is always a paper chain from receipt of food storing then picking for use to save on wastage.”

Food bank at the parish church in Chatteris. Tomorrow is the last day it will be held there

Food bank at the parish church in Chatteris. Tomorrow is the last day it will be held there

Another post to the church FB page said: “Thank you for all the voluntary work from everyone who went out of their way to put their own time and effort in to make the food bank work.

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“And also, a huge thank you to yourselves for providing a safe place for those in need in these hard times. It’s sad to see they have monetised off this, and sure they will regret their decision! Thanks again to all you lovely bunch for being amazing.”

Sèamus Connolly, Operations Director, Ely Foodbank said: “After several months of conversations with the team at the current location, Ely Foodbank has made the difficult decision to move the venue and time of its Chatteris distribution centre.

“While this is a sad outcome, we would like to thank the volunteers at St Peter & St Paul’s church and the PCC for their support over the last eight years.

“The food bank’s focus remains on the wellbeing of people who need support and having reviewed several alternative venues in Chatteris, Ely Foodbank has reached an agreement with the Salvation Army to use their facilities to deliver the Chatteris food bank distribution sessions on Mondays between 1-2pm.

“All clients will still be able to receive a voucher through their usual referral partners and all services of the food bank will continue including dedicated Citizens Advice support.

“The delivery of the food bank session will be overseen by Ely Foodbank and will continue to be run by volunteers as usual. Ely Foodbank remains committed to providing a high-level of support for people in need in the Chatteris area.”

On the Chatteris food bank website it says: “We are part of the Trussell Trust Ely Food bank.

“The Chatteris Distribution Centre is open all year to serve Chatteris and the surrounding villages. The food bank runs with a team of volunteers from Chatteris who give their time to help those in a crisis, by handing out food parcels for up to four days.

“When items are available, the visitor can choose other products such as toiletries, pet food, and occasionally fresh items can be on offer too. The team of volunteers will signpost visitors for further help if this is required. Our aim is to end poverty #STOPUKHUNGER.”

The website added: “Each week between 10 – 15 parcels of food and toiletries are handed out by local volunteers to individuals and families living in Chatteris. Many do not realise that we never miss a week. We even handed out food parcels to needy people on Christmas Day.

Some of the “amazing volunteers who give so much to serve the Trussell Trust food bank in Chatteris” were the words accompanying this photo posted earlier this month by the parish church.

Some of the “amazing volunteers who give so much to serve the Trussell Trust food bank in Chatteris” were the words accompanying this photo posted earlier this month by the parish church.

“We work in partnership with other agencies including: the local schools, Age Concern, the doctor’s surgery, the job centre, social services, and the children’s centre. There is always a need for more donations all through the year so please consider if you can help.”

CambsNews has reached out to the Ely Trussell Trust to explain their decision.

 

 

 

 

 

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