Ashtead Hospital staff show their support for local Foodbank

As part of their ongoing support, Ashtead Hospital collected 5 boxes and 2 carrier bags of food and toiletries for Epsom and Ewell Foodbank over the Christmas period. Tins and packets of dried food, nappies, shampoos, toilet rolls, washing powder, even dog food, were brought in by the staff over 3 weeks and stored ready for collection.

Each year, the staff vote for a local charity to support for the following year and the Foodbank was chosen back in 2013. That year, they raised over £600 through raffles, cake sales, coffee mornings and their annual Consultants  v GPs cricket match and Family Rounders match, which included a mouth-watering barbecue. One of the staff organised 2 food collections during the year which were generously donated to by everyone in the hospital. The boxes of food and the cheque were presented to Jonathan Lees from the Epsom & Ewell Foodbank at the Christmas Lunch where he gave a short talk on the work that they do, giving an insight into the desperate circumstances that people find themselves in. Heart-wrenching stories of families with children having to decide whether to eat or heat their homes, young men caught between job losses and benefits with nowhere to turn to, young mothers trying to survive on little money, the JAMS (just about managing) being hit by a financial crisis, even working parents who's wages are not sufficient to cover the cost of rent, bills and food. All these people are out there in our community with little or no help from the system or their families, for whatever reason.

Run by volunteers and supported by the Trussell Trust, the Epsom & Ewell Foodbank started on 1st October 2012. Briefly, they provide food for people in crisis via a voucher referral system. The voucher allows the whole family structure to be fed for 3 days. One in 5 people in the UK live below the poverty line and every day people go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. A simple box of food makes a big difference, with foodbanks helping prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems. Epsom& Ewell Foodbank alone have been donated more than 100 tonnes of food and in total have fed more than 10,000 people since they opened. They generate approximately 200 hours of volunteering a week and have an amazing band of people that help out in so many different ways. They run 5 centres locally, which means they are able to have one open each day of the week, Tuesdays to Saturdays.

This charity touched the hearts of the staff at Ashtead. Some asked for collections to be organised regularly and this has been an ongoing event, raising £97 and £260 in the interim years, as well as the food collections. This year, in addition to the donations of food and toiletries, the annual staff Christmas Lunch raffle raised a generous £265, everyone getting into the festive spirit and being served by their managers in seasonal fancy dress, which raised some laughs ...and eyebrows!