The Andover foodbank celebrated the opening of its enlarged warehouse on Friday 12 October 2018. The foodbank was set up in 2006 to provide emergency food to local people who find themselves in crisis and without means to buy food. Good quality, secure and long term storage is essential for the foodbank. Renting additional space at commercial rates was a huge drain on the foodbank’s valuable resources so the foodbank committee made the decision to stop renting and apply for permission to build an extension onto its warehouse in Alexandra Road. The foodbank was able to finance the project through the generosity of a Test Valley Borough Council Community Asset Grant, donations from companies and churches and a significant anonymous donation.
At the opening Jamie Symington, Chairman, thanked Cllr Chris Lynn and Cllr Sandra Hawke who supported the application for the grant, James Fraser from BCM Rural Property Specialists who donated their expertise to design and project manager, Paul Cummins who built the extension, Aster who completed the electrical work and other jobs for free, John Cribb & Sons who donated electrical items. He also thanked Cambrook Foods who provided temporary storage space free of charge and The Bridge and Test Valley Citizens Advice who held additional food boxes during the project. James Fraser explained why BCM wanted to help the foodbank: ‘As a local business, providing our services free of charge to a worthy local organisation benefitting local people, enabled us to directly help the local community’. Gary Prince, Operations Director (Hants & Wilts), Aster said that “The Andover foodbank is a fantastic initiative providing much needed support to the Andover Community where Aster Group has many customers and when we were asked to help out with the refurbishment we were more than happy to help, with labour, some building materials and electrical materials supplied by one of our primary suppliers John Cribbs. We should also thank our colleagues that used their volunteering day provided through the Aster Foundation to support this great work that has provided the foodbank with the much needed space”.
Angela Kemp from Citizens Advice Test Valley spoke at the event to thank the foodbank for the support that it provides to those in need in and around Andover. She outlined some of the circumstances that clients face that mean that they need to seek support from the Citizens Advice and the foodbank. One of the major causes is delay or changes to benefits and following the introduction of universal credit in Andover both the Citizens Advice and the foodbank have started to see people who are struggling because of the change. Both organisations expect to see an increase in the number of people seeking help over the coming weeks.
The completion of the building project is a major step in securing the future of the foodbank and ensures that it can focus on meeting the needs of the local community.