Aster group gives £6,000 to boost local foodbanks

Housing association Aster Group has handed eight £750 donations to foodbanks across the south west in a show of support for the charities and those who use it.

Sara Farmer, manager of Portland Foodbank, said: “Thank you Aster for supporting Portland Foodbank. Due to the cost-of-living crisis we are experiencing many people on Portland living in food poverty.

“People are telling us that they have no money left for food, after paying their bills. More people are having to come to the foodbank, and we have opened our doors on a Tuesday and Friday morning 9.30-11.30am to anyone who wants to join us for a coffee and a chat at St Johns Hall, Ventnor Road. They can also pick up a food parcel at the same time.”

Portland Foodbank is one of eight foodbanks across the South and South West which have each received £750, bringing the total donation from Aster this year to £6,000. The other foodbanks include Andover Foodbank, Ringwood Foodbank, Devizes & District Foodbank, Glastonbury Foodbank, Weymouth Foodbank, Romsey Foodbank and Fair Frome Foodbank.

A spokesperson for Fair Frome Foodbank said: “Fair Frome has had a very busy period. As well as serving an increasing number of people through the foodbank, furniture bank, Food at Five and our other projects we have also delivered food to schools and supported the Frome Christmas Get-Together meals.

“In November 2022, we hit a milestone of giving out over £100,000 worth of food at the foodbank.”

Chris Lee, Chair of Trustees Ringwood foodbank, said: “In 2022 Ringwood foodbank, which covers Ringwood, Fordingbridge and Verwood, provided 42,255 meals to adults and children in financial need. We could not do this without the support of our local community who provide food and cash donations and volunteer time. We are grateful to Aster Group, with whom we work over the year, for their generous donation of £750 to help us with our work.”

A spokesperson for Devizes and District foodbank said: “A big 'thank you' for your kind donation of £750 to Devizes and District Foodbank. Your support means that we are able to continue to provide vital food and supplies to people in crisis over the coming months.

“By also supporting us with monetary donations you are helping cover the cost of storing and distributing supplies, which is just as vital as the food itself.”

Jenny LeLean, Andover Foodbank manager, said: “The increase in the cost of living has had a clear impact on the finances of many people in the community. In 2022 we provided food for more than 8,000 people, of which over 2,000 were children. We could not have met this increase in demand without the generous support of individuals and companies and we are very grateful for Aster’s support.”

Mary Powell, treasurer of Glastonbury & Street Bridging the Gap Foodbank said: “Just in October to December last year, we made 121 deliveries to families and 141 to individuals. In the same period during 2021, there were 79 family deliveries and 75 individual deliveries, so it’s clear the need has skyrocketed. 

“We are extremely grateful to Aster Group for its very timely donation, which will be used to provide for those in food need.”

Jean-Paul Dervley, chair of Weymouth Foodbank, said: “We were delighted to receive the generous donation from Aster.  With the cost-of-living crisis, we have seen a 68% increase in demand for our services in 2022 compared with 2021. Our donations have remained encouraging, but do not meet the level of food we are distributing. We need to buy top ups, so need financial donations to do this. 

“We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of the community, businesses, churches and individuals. Donations like this from Aster have meant that we have sufficient funds to meet the increased demand.”

Beth Tanton, Romsey Foodbank manager added: “We are very grateful for everyone's support in both food and financial donations. We have been able to support more families and individuals this past year. We are open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Romsey and Friday in North Baddesley.”

Over the last four years, Aster has donated more than £13,000 to foodbanks in its operating areas.

Darren Brazil, regional operations director at Aster Group, said: “Aster has been supporting foodbanks for several years now and have seen first-hand how important their work is.

“Now more than ever, they are playing a crucial role supporting vulnerable people in our communities.

“We want to show our appreciation for the work foodbanks do, particularly at a time when people are struggling with the rising cost of living.

“The foodbank teams work selflessly to provide a vital service and we hope this contribution can help that continue.”

Alongside food and financial donations to foodbanks, Aster’s Financial Wellbeing team helps its customers access the right benefits and support available to them.

The team empowers customers to understand their financial circumstances and manage their budgets. During 2021/22, Aster helped its customers to claim over £566,000 through benefit applications and appeals.

Alongside financial wellbeing services offered to Aster customers, the Aster Foundation also supports customers with full benefits checks, budgeting advice, help to find employment and a Digital College which delivers accredited learning online.

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