Jake Taylor, Matt Jay and Nigel Atangana took a break from training to support a massive community effort to provide food for Exeter’s most vulnerable children and their families.
Exeter CITY Community Trust, in partnership with Exeter City Futures, undertook the huge task of assembling substantial parcels of food, personal care products, and energy vouchers for around 550 vulnerable families in Exeter and Cranbrook in time for the Easter holidays.
Funding of £50,000 for the initiative was provided by Devon County Council as part of its winter grant scheme and Exeter Learning Academy Trust worked with schools to identify the families who were most in need.
More than 50 volunteers, including members of Grecian Groups, stepped forward to help to sort the food, which was delivered in two huge lorry loads. Delivery lorries for the initiative were donated by Greendale and Ladram Bay; Greendale also provided a warehouse unit to store and sort the 40,000 plus items of food and essentials.
Jamie Vittles, chief executive of CITY Community Trust, said: “This was a huge logistical operation. We took delivery of two massive lorry loads of supplies and dozens of volunteers from across Devon gave their time to sort it for the schools.
“We’d like to thank the businesses who have supported this and the volunteers who helped to sort through the food over the weekend. It was great too, to have Jake, Matt, and Nigel come and help us with the work we’ve been doing.”
Jamie added: “At a time when more and more people are experiencing hardship, it is incredibly heartening to see businesses and organisations across the region work together to help hundreds of families this Easter.”
The supplies were then delivered to each of the schools, where children and staff worked together to assemble the parcels as part of an important educational element of the project. Vans to carry out the deliveries were also donated by Exeter City Football Club’s first team squad, the ECFC Academy and Thrifty car and van hire.
A total of 30 schools have identified children who may be at risk of holiday hunger. Each food parcel is valued at approximately £80 and includes personal care items and a budget-friendly cookbook, as well as both fresh and longer life food.
Simon Kitchen, Devon County Council’s head of communities, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on families, particularly financially with many parents and carers seeing their income change overnight.
“We are committed to supporting people in Devon experiencing hardship, working alongside a range of organisations and communities. This amazing partnership will help to support families this Easter.“
Andrew Hardwick, Managing Director at Exeter City Futures, said: “Whilst it is saddening to see an increasing number of deprived families and children that are in need of support in Exeter, we have been overwhelmed by the level of generosity from across the city in response to their needs.
“These 500 plus food and gift parcels, assembled by local volunteers, will make a huge and tangible difference to each of the families that may have otherwise gone hungry this Easter."
He added: “We are proud to be part of this project to help bridge inequalities and support the wellbeing of Exeter’s citizens. This clearly demonstrates one of Exeter City Futures’ key roles for the city - helping bring everyone together to collectively solve shared challenges. Thank you to all the partners and volunteers who have made this such a huge success.”
Other support for the initiative was received from Tesco, who facilitated such a large order of food and also donated Easter eggs and bags for life, Westexe who supplied a forklift truck, Speedy Freight, Coastal Recycling, Morrisons, Oxygen House and Exeter City Supporters’ Trust.