November 18, 2019

Local Christmas Spirit

This issue's Local Hero is Jonathan Lees at Epsom & Ewell Foodbank.

Whilst we heartily embrace the glitz, kitsch and general excess of Advent at OUT, we are also hugely aware that the festive period is a very difficult time for many, particularly those who don’t have the resources to lay on a John Lewis ad-style perfect day.

Jonathan Lees has run the Epsom & Ewell Foodbank since he founded it in 2012 and is currently feeding an average of 88 people every week. Worryingly, they have seen a 45% increase in people seeking help in 2019 compared with last year. The Foodbank relies 100% on the goodwill and generosity of the public and the help of volunteers and workers: since 2012 they have fed over 18,000 people including over 7,000 children.

How it works

  • Foodbank clients must have a voucher from a referral agency: if you need support and don’t have a voucher, contact them and they will put you in touch with an appropriate agency.
  • Clients should bring their voucher to their closest centre: after a warm drink and a chat about your situation and dietary needs, vouchers can be exchanged for a parcel of three days worth of emergency food.

Jonathan and his team can also offer other help and advice if needed: from counselling and benefits advice to cookery courses and sourcing furniture. The aim is to support people who need help at crisis points – whilst there are a minority of people regularly receiving food parcels, over half of food bank visitors only need to use the service once.

The Foodbank will be providing fresh ingredients for Christmas meals this year: clients will be given help with energy cards plus vouchers for local butchers & greengrocers.

How you can help

  • Donate something to make Christmas a little brighter for someone.
    Chuck an extra selection box in the trolley or grab some new pillows, flannels or towels. Other festive requests are for new gloves, hot water bottles or insulated travel cups.
  • Give them some money.
    Simple as that: there is no council funding so they need cash to keep the lights on, put petrol in the vans that pick up the food, let alone fund Christmas meals.
  • Donate food regularly.
    Look for baskets in your supermarket or for a drop off point at your local church. Email to be added to a distribution list highlighting what they are low on.
  • Buy a pack of Christmas cards.
    Once Upon a Town has been working with UCA Epsom to produce Christmas card designed by students. They are being sold at various local retailers, click here for a full list of stockists, with all proceeds being donated to the Epsom & Ewell foodbank. Thank you to Toyota and Impress Print for their support with this project.

If you need help from the Epsom & Ewell Foodbank or would like to offer your support, have a look at or phone 02087868221

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