A version of this report from Pevensey Bay was originally written for the local press as part of HEART’s new Press Release service. It has already appeared in The Eastbourne Herald. If you would like a professionally written press release to announce your church’s news to the local community, please contact the Editor at heartpublications@gmail.com or phone 01903 209383

 Local church to offer free food and advice

WITH FOOD BANKS IN THE NEWS, members of Pevensey Bay Baptist Church have responded to the growing need for emergency food supplies and are opening a Food Bank for the villages around Pevensey.

It has been open since 19 January, initially for one day a week from 10am -12 noon. Organiser Bryan Bladon, an elder of Pevensey Bay Baptist Church, believes there is a great need in the villages south of Eastbourne, but that much of the social deprivation is hidden. He told HEART, “We want to provide a local centre of compassion and care, and offer a listening ear as well as emergency food supplies.

Food Bank volunteers (back row from left): Rev Edwin Peña, Sue Lewis, Mike Lewis, Jane Scott Montgomery, Owen Visick, Bryan Bladon and Dave Culliss.
Front row from left: Marie Boreham, Naomi Chapman, Audrey Heath. All are members of Pevensey Bay Baptist Church, except Owen Visick, who attends St Wilfred’s Church, Pevensey Bay

“We can think that people are OK, but behind closed doors there are needs which are not being met, including instances of abuse, so we will start by listening if people want to talk.

“A lot of people’s lives are derelict. The benefits system is putting people into real poverty and hardship, while the tax on two bedrooms means people are losing their homes because they can’t pay their rent. Sadly Social Services and hospitals can fail people, while doctors can refer patients for counselling, but they probably won’t get an appointment for six months.”

Bryan hopes to reach housebound older people and plans to connect with District Nurses, Health Visitors and local charities, to identify those who could benefit from a visit by the Food Bank team.

Currently the nearest food bank is in Eastbourne, a bus ride away, but with winter here the organisers recognise that this is difficult for those in need, especially the elderly.

As well as tea and sympathy, the Pevensey Bay team believe they are equipped to offer debt and legal advice and help with any mental health issues, thanks to the experience available among the team.

They recognise that some Food Bank clients may have alcohol and drug issues, as well as learning difficulties, but with five years’ experience of teaching nurses how to handle challenging behaviour, Bryan knows how to de-escalate potentially threatening situations.

The Food Bank will operate initially as a satellite of the Eastbourne Food Bank, which has started under the Trussell Trust like so many Food Banks. Satellite Food Banks are based at other Eastbourne churches including Polegate, Living Stones, and Shinewater. Howard Wardle of the Eastbourne Food Bank will provide training and the food boxes.

Above all, though, Bryan sees the new venture as a vehicle to show Christian compassion and concern. The team members have declared their wish to pray for everyone who comes through the door by name.


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