Food for Thought on the Old Dean

As Chairman of the Old Dean Community Group, a registered charity, Trefor Hogg could see first-hand how the coronavirus pandemic was affecting the local community.

The Old Dean estate is home to some 2000+ families and is co-managed by our customer partners Paul Hills and Danielle Morgan. 

One of the things we have seen to emerge from the pandemic has been a huge and worrying increase in the number of people who have lost their job, or remain on zero hours contracts as businesses are lost, and people find themselves unable to work. On the Old Dean, it became obvious that people were struggling to afford even the most basic of things, like food to feed their families.

Nationally, foodbank charity the Trussell Trust has reported an almost 90% increase in the demand for emergency food parcels.

In response to the struggles on the Old Dean, Trefor set out to persuade the local residents of Barossa Allotments to donate some of their fruit and vegetables for a food scheme to provide for local people who needed help. He then set up a stall outside the local church, St Martin’s, (which has also supported the scheme) and began providing food for people in the community. The stall saw high numbers of visitors almost immediately, and thanks to the donations from the allotments, managed to stay stocked all summer. Supplies began to decline in the autumn with the changing season.

Not to be deterred, as the need for help certainly hadn’t declined as the pandemic took hold once again, Trefor applied for grants from support agencies and the National Lottery. The lottery rewarded his efforts with a donation which enabled the group to provide Co-op gift cards for the free school meals families and to buy more supplies from the local greengrocer who agreed to supply at cost.

As momentum grew, local residents also supported the cause, donating for their less fortunate neighbours where they could, providing tins and dried goods. The Old Dean Community Group has also received additional grants enabling the stall to continue.   

Trefor said: “We realised people on the estate were struggling to provide even the basics for their families during the pandemic, so we wanted to help. Everyone who needs help is welcome, we ask people to decide what they need for themselves and we don’t set a limit on what people can take and. If they can’t come to the table, due to vulnerability or shielding, we make up food parcels and deliver them."

"I’d like to thank all of the members of the community group who have helped to make this all possible and everyone who has donated to the scheme.”

Paul and Danielle have recently supported the group with a donation of £2,000 from their local  community budget.

Old Dean Community Group have just extended the scheme to the neighbouring Watchetts area with the help of St Mary’s (Camberley) and the Watchetts Residents Forum. The group hopes to extend the St Michael’s area of Camberley soon as residents there face the same challenges.

Food and cash donations to the scheme are always welcome, and anyone who can donate should email Trefor at treforh@googlemail.com

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