Tuesday, 05 May 2020 00:00

Partnership working helps to get food and essentials to the needy in Great Yarmouth borough

Written by  David Wiles
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Partnership working helps to get food and essentials to the needy in Great Yarmouth borough

A local Community Interest Company is coordinating efforts with Great Yarmouth Borough Council to help ensure residents in need have access to food and other essential items during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Nine dedicated volunteers at Mandalay Wellbeing CIC, based at the Victoria Arcade, are delivering welfare parcels to residents who have been referred to them via a number of organisations, including GPs, JobCentre Plus and Children’s Services.

The parcels contain food, clothing, toiletries and other essential items donated through local supermarkets and the charity FareShare, which redistributes good quality surplus food from the shops to front-line community groups. 

Mandalay Wellbeing is coordinating its efforts with redeployed council staff, based at the council’s food distribution hub at the Town Hall. The council is topping up community-run food banks with food and other essentials donated by local businesses, as well directly delivering food parcels and medical supplies to residents in need.

Trevor Saunders, who was also behind the successful Christmas Stocking Campaign and was named BBC Radio Norfolk’s Volunteer of the Year in 2019, is the founder and a director of Mandalay Wellbeing.   

He said: “This is just the kind of situation I set the social enterprise up for: to help people. It’s a team effort, we have brilliant volunteers working together to maximise our reach and capabilities.

“We have been doing the food collections for almost three years, linking in with the various support projects we ran before lockdown. The collections have increased from three a week to around 15 due to coronavirus. We are doing all we can to manage the donations and meet demand, working alongside the council. It’s a really nice feeling because you don’t feel alone. 

“I can pick up the phone to the council to share stock. That’s really important because sometimes I will lack items for my parcels which the council has available, or I will have a surplus of perishable items which the council has the capacity to take and get out quickly to the right people.

“We also really appreciate the council’s swift and efficient handling of the £10,000 business grants, which has also made a huge difference to our work and sustainability.”

Cllr Carl Smith, the council leader, said: “I’m so proud that we’re part of this amazing multi-agency response in Norfolk, which is helping people in our community, including the most vulnerable, to stay safe at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

“Critical to this is ongoing partnership working with committed community organisations and dedicated volunteers from partner organisations, such as the food banks and Mandalay Wellbeing. I would also like to thank the council’s redeployed staff as well as the generous businesses which are donating food and essentials.”

Mandalay Wellbeing is funded through donations. Recent contributions were from National Emergencies Trust, Norfolk Community Foundation, FareShare, Caister Tesco, RWE Offshore, The National Lottery Community Fund, Aviva Community Fund and the Hippodrome Circus. In addition, car dealer Thurlow Nunn has loaned a vehicle for deliveries. If you would like to donate or volunteer, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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