Paignton Community Larder - helping Torbay families and individuals who find themselves in a place of hardship - has a new home and a new member of the team.
After two years at St Andrew's, PCL have moved to Southfield Christian Centre on Cecil Road, Paignton.
As well as a new home, Andy Bichard has joined as coordinator, after three years as community manager at Torquay Salvation Army, to work alongside current coordinator Anita Davies.
PCL was set up during October 2017 by Central Paignton Parish Churches. Since that time, more than 180,000 meals have gone out in the form of food parcels, with over 55,000 going to young families.
"It is such an exciting time to join the team at PCL," said Andy.
"‘Anita and her team has done a fantastic job over the last few years. Together we hope to build something that will have a positive impact on the community we serve.
"I know how important is to be part of a charity that truly cares, not just about the people who come to us in need of provision but everybody who is part of the charity."
Andy began volunteering at Anode back in 2015, a Paignton-based charity that covered the whole of Torbay that is still much missed after closing their doors in September 2017.
"At that point, I was a bit of a mess and had a very unstructured life," said Andy. "They were the first organisation I had engaged with that truly seemed to care about me. It was in that environment that I opened up about issues going on in my life.
"As a result, in 2016 I was diagnosed with PTSD because of historical trauma. I went through statutory services for treatment, which helped massively, but I couldn’t have stayed engaged with that support without the team at Anode who journeyed alongside me.
"My confidence and self-esteem grew exponentially, eventually transitioning from volunteer to employee.
"That experience enabled me to start working for Torquay Salvation Army to coordinate their community programmes over the last few years.
"I believe anyone can turn their life around, because I did. I had alcohol issues, I struggled with anxiety in social situations. I have to pinch myself at how far I have come, I couldn’t have done it alone.
"It is great to have Andy on board," said Anita. "He brings great experience as well as great relationships with statutory and community based organisations across Torbay.
"I would also like to thank the Methodist church for all they have done in homing us at the Southfield Christian Centre, allowing us a space that means we can expand upon our current services."
On Monday, September 6, PCL are launching their ‘Snack and Natter’, a service that will run alongside the food bank opening times, allowing anyone the opportunity to come in for tea, coffee, cake and soup, while offering the opportunity to speak to anyone of the team. There will be suggested donation prices.
Andy said: "The pandemic has left people vulnerable to isolation and loneliness, so it is important to offer a space that people can pop in for something that is informal and welcoming."
This autumn should see the return of normal harvest festivals at schools and churches.
"The support we received last year was fantastic, considering the circumstances," said Anita. "However, it was noticeable that people were not able to donate the way they normally would.
"It is at this point of the year, though, where our shelves are thinning out so hopefully this autumn with schools and churches celebrating harvest, we will see an influx of donations."
Over the coming months there are further plans to is expand upon existing services and activities that address the underlying causes of food provision.
Mental health wellbeing is a key focus going forward with many exciting conversations already ongoing.
For information about Paignton Community Larder, log on to www.paigntoncommunitylarder.org.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07895 925 872
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