Richmond foodbank opens to help families in crisis at Christmas


The foodbank, launched at Waitrose, is providing charitable food parcels for struggling residents.

By Sara Hailan

A Richmond foodbank providing charitable food parcels for struggling residents has launched at Waitrose.

The on-going service, initiated by Vineyard Community Centre and with PR and branding from Trussell Trust, came into action on November 24 at the supermarket on Sheen Road.

Shoppers were encouraged to participate by purchasing items from the foodbank list in store and leaving them at the collection point.  

Councillor Pamela Fleming, Strategic cabinet member for Community, Business and Culture, said: “The event last week was very successful and whilst in Waitrose, I saw many people donating.

“The reaction from the public was very positive, although one or two people are sceptical and it is important to get over the message that this is short term crisis help, not a soup kitchen.”

The service will aid those with unexpected emergencies, sudden loss of employment, or income, sickness, delay in benefits and victims of domestic violence.

Bob Kimmerling, Vineyard Community Centre Church minister, explained that the council, particularly Councillor Flemming, have been very supportive and contributed £5,000 from the Civic Pride Fund to help fund the foodbank’s start up costs. 

He said: “Richmond is one of the last remaining boroughs to open a foodbank and we felt that the time, opportunity and practicalities afforded by the Community Centre gave us the right timing for this.”

The food list notes a combination of balanced non-perishables, dried goods, pasta, sugar, tinned meat/fish, biscuits and jam amongst many other items.

Parcel referrals are made by professionals, such as doctors, health visitors and the police. Redeemable vouchers are issued to those in need, for three to five days’ worth of food packages. 

He said: “Judging by the success we have had so far, we expect to receive 5 tons of mixed food purchased by Waitrose customers, or between 220 and 250 full crates, having given out approximately 5,800 customer requests.”

Though assistance is limited to three separate visits per person, the database will select people that need longer term support. 

Big Yellow has also contributed 150sq ft storage without compensation, whilst Tesco in Richmond is also taking part and expected to have a major input next year.

The supermarket encouraged customers at their foodbank event this weekend to buy and donate extra items.

Anyone wishing to donate can find the food list on the Vineyard Congregational Church website.

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