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Salvation Army urges people to think of those in need after food bank donations stolen

PUBLISHED: 17:23 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:26 17 March 2020

Tesco Sheringham food bank donation basket, from which people have been seen taking pasta and toilet rolls.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Tesco Sheringham food bank donation basket, from which people have been seen taking pasta and toilet rolls. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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A Norfolk Salvation Army corps has urged members of the public to think of those struggling to feed their families during the coronavirus outbreak, after receiving reports of people stealing donations from a supermarket food bank basket.

Major Alex Bishop, of Sheringham Salvation Army, who says the coronavirus outbreak has led to an increase in requests for help.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLMajor Alex Bishop, of Sheringham Salvation Army, who says the coronavirus outbreak has led to an increase in requests for help. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Former social worker Carol McKean, who is community manager at Sheringham’s Salvation Army headquarters, posted an appeal on Facebook praising shoppers at the town’s Tesco store for their generosity. However, she added that a number of people had told her they had seen customers attempting to remove toilet rolls and pasta from the basket near the Cromer Road store’s entrance.

“If anyone is in need either due to their regular circumstances, or due to the implications of the virus, we will help as much as we can,” Ms McKean said.

Tesco Sheringham, where the Salvation Army runs a food bank collection.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLTesco Sheringham, where the Salvation Army runs a food bank collection. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Corps officer Major Alex Bishop said that the coronavirus crisis had led to a large increase in requests for help, with volunteers busy packing emergency boxes for older people and needy families.

“The number of phone calls we have had already has meant that we have been packing more parcels than we had anticipated and, let’s face it, in a local economy that relies heavily on tourism and retail, potentially, people could lose their jobs,” he said.

But while supermarket shelves are stripped bare of tinned and dried foods and other essentials, Mr Bishop said his team was not yet concerned about meeting demand, as the corps had stocked up in advance.

“In the longer term, I’m not too worried about supply, but I am concerned about the number of people who might be coming to us for help as our pit is not bottomless,” he added.

The corps, which received a 50pc increase in the number families from Sheringham, Holt and Cromer asking for help last Christmas, works with the Trussell Trust and Cromer and District Foodbank to distribute parcels in the area.

Mr Bishop urged anyone needing support not to take food from donation baskets, but rather to contact the Salvation Army and ask.

He said: “It certainly is unkind to take things intended for those in need of help, but I think the faults in human nature are balanced by the generosity of others.”

Sheringham Salvation Army Foodbank is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and by appointment. For more information, phone 01263 826059.


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