Southend Vineyard Storehouse

I know this blog has nothing to do with my books, or any books, or writing in general. Sorry! I am using my blog to support my weight-loss efforts. Normal service will be resumed once I am thin.

Last week I blogged about one of the charities I am raising money for, Godmothers, which is hoping to build six properly plumbed toilets at the Kampong Cham centre in Cambodia where 63 children rescured from sexual slavery in Phnom Phen live in safety.

This week it's the turn of my other charity, something a little closer to home.

We may like to think that we don't have grinding poverty in this country, but there are still many who, if they do have a roof over their heads, may not be able to afford to heat it, or feed and clothe themselves. In Southend, my nearest large town, is an estate which houses many such people, battling with every social issue from mental illness to addiction to abandonment and just plain old poverty.

Southend Vineyard is an Evanglical Christian Church which does some wonderful work among these people. They own a building right in the very centre of the estate, and through grants, donations and sheer hard work, have set up the Storehouse project. On four days during the week volunteers at the centre give out free tea, coffee, breakfasts, lunches, food bags and clothing, provide a quiet area to meet and socialise, and signpost customers to relevant services that can help them.

I have volunteered at the Storehouse on just one occasion but was very impressed with the wonderful work they do, and how well organised it is. Arrangements have been made with local supermarkets to donate food which is past its "Best before" date but still well within its "Use by" date, and my job on that day was to bag up the food and give it out to those who met the criteria. I was impressed also by how graciously they accepted it; they still had their pride, dignity, good manners and sense of humour, and the warm and friendly spirit at the Storehouse centre made it somewhere I would like to volunteer regularly. (Unfortuantely it's only open during my working hours.)

The Storehouse has a major problem however. Their van, used to collect the food from the supermarkets, has broken down beyond repair, and they desperately need a new one. The cost is £8,000 which they just don't have. I'm hoping I can help towards that total just a little.


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