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1,000 food parcels put together to help families in Ipswich this Christmas - and more will be needed

PUBLISHED: 11:30 07 December 2018

Volunteers busily packing the boxes  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Volunteers busily packing the boxes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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An Ipswich mum-of-three has revealed that a food bank is her only hope of providing Christmas dinner this year.

Volunteers from Families in need (FIND) have just completed the mammoth task of packing up more than 1,000 hampers, each worth at least £40, for those who are struggling to make ends meet, and they fear more will be needed before the Christmas holidays are over.

Maureen Reynel, founder of FIND, explained that there is extra pressure on families at Christmas and with budgets stretched even more many come to them for help.

She said: “At Christmas there is that extra need because there are people who feel under pressure. Parents feel they need to give their children all the presents they ask for so they don’t feel deprived, but then after Christmas their cupboards will be bare.

“There seems to be this extra burden on people thinking you have to be part of this big glitzy event but then with that comes pressure.

Volunteers taping up the food parcels  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNVolunteers taping up the food parcels Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It makes parents feel they are bad parents if they don’t supply their children with everything. So if we can provide a bit of joy we do.”

The volunteers at FIND made their first 1,000 Christmas hampers in the space of just two days. They will then make more when further requests are sent in.

The Christmas parcel is filled with basics and a large tin of sweets or biscuits. A wrapped surprise gift is also sent.

An Ipswich mum believes her family would really struggle without Families in Need.

Volunteers followed a shopping list as they packed the boxes  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNVolunteers followed a shopping list as they packed the boxes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Gemma, who doesn’t wish to give her last name, said: “My family would struggle if we didn’t have FIND – where else would we go?

“They are our only help-line. Whenever I struggle I can go to FIND and say I just need a bit of help and then it is delivered to my door. I have a Christmas food hamper every year.”

The mother-of-three finds herself trying to buy all the presents her children want and can then run out of money for food.

FIND aren’t the only organisation working hard to create festive parcels to improve Christmases all over Suffolk.

Volunteers from the Highways Agency pack the boxes  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNVolunteers from the Highways Agency pack the boxes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Love Ipswich is a charity which are also determined in making Christmas better for those in need.

The organisation puts together hampers which consist of all the ingredients needed to make a Christmas dinner for a family of four.

The box contains gravy granules, stuffing, Shloer/sparkling apple drink, custard, savoury snacks, tin of chocolates, biscuits, Christmas crackers, Christmas cake/chocolate log, Christmas pudding, mince pies, cranberry sauce and a £10 meat voucher.

Fran Marcus, project leader for Love Ipswich, hopes to send out 180 parcels this year.

A one way system was created for the packing process  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA one way system was created for the packing process Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

She said: “Hundreds of people will be impacted by what we do. We are trying to give people a good Christmas but we still aren’t reaching enough people.

“There are 30,000 people struggling in Ipswich to make ends meet. All the people we help are referred to us from social service, refugee support, and children needs.

“The need is huge, around Christmas we all get so materialistic and as a teacher I hear lots of stories. One I heard was about a family of refugees who lived in one room and couldn’t even have a Christmas dinner.

“Children come back after the holidays and they talk about all the things they got and everything they ate and it is sad to hear that some people don’t have that.

1,000 boxes need to be packed Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN1,000 boxes need to be packed Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We spend so much on food for Christmas and by just putting in a few extra items in your trolley for others can really help.

“We just feel like we needed to step up and do it.”

Both charities rely heavily on donations made from the public to provide the care and service they do.

More than 2,600 Tesco stores are doing their bit to help by encouraging shoppers to donate long-life foods to help charities FareShare and The Trussell Trust’s food bank network.

The food donated to those food banks is used in emergency food parcels and go to people who are referred to the service because they can’t afford to feed themselves and their families.

Tesco will top up the value of the food donated by the public by 20% and provide additional funds to help the charities provide the service they do.

Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry said: “Tesco Food Collection scheme is the UK’s biggest Christmas food collection, and at Tesco we are glad to be playing our part in helping people in need this Christmas.

“We know that the items that our customers donate can make a real difference to people who really need that little bit of extra help this year – whether it is a food parcel for someone at a time of crisis, or a hot meal which means that a vulnerable person does not feel lonely this Christmas.

Bev Roddie and Jean Mayhew from FIND  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBev Roddie and Jean Mayhew from FIND Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Once again we are topping up all the customer donations by a further 20%, and I’d encourage our customers to put something extra in their baskets to donate.”

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