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Balsham foodbank is helping people through these tougher times




A foodbank set up in a south Cambridgeshire village in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has proved such a success that it will leave a lasting legacy for the future.

The Love Balsham Foodbank has been distributing food boxes to people in the village since mid-April and although the current set-up is due to cease by the end of June, help will still be available for those that need it.

Tracy Coston, Balsham Parish Council clerk, is the project’s administrator, with parish councillor Debbie Paton managing operations on the ground, assisted by other volunteers.

Debbie Paton puts together the items donated to Balsham Foodbank, which are then taken out to families in need. The foodbank was started because of the impact of covid-19. Picture by Mark Westley
Debbie Paton puts together the items donated to Balsham Foodbank, which are then taken out to families in need. The foodbank was started because of the impact of covid-19. Picture by Mark Westley

Mrs Coston said: “We are stopping collecting in mid-June and stopping giving out at the end of June but because we have been very lucky with grants and people donating what we are going to continue with is supporting families with a voucher system or a system through the local Post Office.”

The idea of establishing a foodbank in Balsham, which has a population in excess of 1,600, was first put to the parish council in early April.

To establish if there was a need in the village and if it would receive the community’s support the council distributed a leaflet round Balsham.

Donations started to be made in early April and before long applications for food boxes were being received.

Grants of £2,000 from the Cambridge Community Foundation, £500 from Tesco Bags of Help and £2,000 from members of the community had all kept the project going, said Mrs Coston.

The scheme initially entailed twice weekly drop-offs of donations but that is now done once per week.

The items are sorted out and delivered to the recipients on Thursdays.

Mrs Cston added: “I’ve been phoning people every week and texting saying ‘what do you need’.

“We’ve been doing more of a bespoke service saying, what would you need rather than giving things to people that they wouldn’t use.”

Foodboxes have been supplemented with some items supplied by Balsham Post Office - where there is a donation point for foodbank groceries - and paid for with money donated to the foodbank.

Mrs Coston offered particular praise to Helen Edwards, who runs the Post Office, and to Debbie Paton, before adding: “We will carry on for as long as we have got money available to help people.

“That money is coming into the parish council accounts and the last penny will go out to people in need.”


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