Foodbank moves into warehouse 5 times original size as it prepares for 'busiest year yet'

Mike Beckett, CEO of Colchester Foodbank, fears 2021 might be its busiest year yet. 

Mike Beckett, CEO of Colchester Foodbank, fears 2021 might be its busiest year yet. - Credit: Mike Beckett

Colchester Foodbank is preparing for its "busiest year yet" following the prolonged impact of coronavirus and the anticipated economic downturn, moving into a warehouse which is five times the size of its current centre. 

The warehouse is being provided by Stanway-based Tollgate Partnership Limited, which has handed over the keys to the former Office World at Tollgate Retail Park. 

The foodbank will be able to use the 10,000sq ft building for the next 18 months. It is five times the size of the foodbank's current distribution centre at Moorside. 

Mike Beckett, who has run the foodbank since 2017, said the new space will allow them to provide a much better and safer service in a post-Covid world.

"We are so grateful to Tollgate Partnership Limited for this generous decision, which will make a big difference to us," he said.

"Sadly, it looks like we might have an economic downturn in 2021, so we are planning for this to be our busiest ever year. The lovely people at Tollgate Partnership Ltd have come to our aid at just the right time."

At the peak of the first lockdown the foodbank saw a huge surge in demand, with the numbers of parcels it delivers doubling as more families looked for help. 

Jayne Gee, a director of the family-run Tollgate Partnership Limited, said: “We really wanted to help everyone who is struggling in these difficult times, so we offered the use of former Office World building.

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"We are in awe of the work the foodbank does and we are excited by their plans to provide additional much-needed services to the community of Stanway and the whole of Colchester.”

The building will eventually form part of Tollgate Village, but until work gets underway on that phase of the development it will be put to such worthwhile use.

The new distribution centre, which is on a bus route, will operate from 10am to 2pm six days a week from February 1, replacing Moorside.

Colchester Foodbank’s hubs at Greenstead, Monkwick, New Town and in the town centre will continue to operate part-time.

After Lockdown, there are plans to add a “Tots and Teens” equipment and uniform exchange and other services at the new Tollgate Retail Park site, providing help for families in need from one place.

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