Richard Taunton Sixth Form College Winter Fest Funds Will Help Southampton Foodbanks Cope with Rising Demand

Southampton City Mission has thanked Richard Taunton Sixth Form College students and staff for donating money raised at the college’s Winter Fest to the foodbank funds.

The mission runs five Basics Bank foodbanks across the city and manager Vicky McKillen said the £300 raised by the college’s pre-Christmas event is desperately needed.

“I would really like to say thank you very much to all the students who helped raise the money for the charity,” she said.

“It’s really great they are able to support the local community and to support those who are facing more difficult times, and we’re really grateful for those that care about others in the community.

“We are almost about to run out of our Christmas donations. We did really well over Harvest and Christmas but come January, because we are so busy, donations start to slip again. I think it’s really lovely that people remember us at Christmas, but we also run all year.”

The 28-year-old charity, which has more than 200 volunteers working at the five foodbanks, as well as its social supermarket and clothing project, regularly posts on its website about what kind of stocks it needs.

“We’ve got a traffic light system to indicate what’s in stock and what’s not,” she said. Anything red is urgently needed. Baked beans are always in green because everyone donates them. I don’t know why because they are really expensive and there are some cheaper options.”

She said tinned vegetables and fruit, tinned meat – such as meatballs, spam, or ham – and chicken in sauce are always welcomed.

“A lot of people donate nappies, which is really great, because we do like to give them out, but we don’t get the size fives and the sixes and they’re the ones we give out the most often,” she said.

“There’s a lot of support for people when they’ve just had their baby but less support when they’re older.”

She said the foodbanks, which fed more than 18,800 people in 2022, are seeing more and more people and the nature of those coming along is changing. “We have people who were fully living within their means a month ago and they’re now having to use a food bank when they never thought they’d ever touch one before,” she said.

“It’s our job to try and get rid of the stigma around foodbanks because needing one can happen to anybody. We’d like people to think positively about foodbanks and be respectful to anyone they know who is in the unfortunate position of having to use one.”

More than 800 people came to the college’s Winter Fest in December to see music and performing arts students showcase their talent. The event also had a craft fair, arts demonstrations and a fundraising raffle.

Principal Angela Berry said: “I am delighted that our event, not only had an impact on how people see the college, but it also had a good outcome for the community too”.

“We all know that foodbank use is on the rise and that some families have found themselves in need of them. It is an absolute tragedy that in 2024 we need foodbanks in this country but thank goodness fantastic organisations like Southampton City Mission are there to meet the real need in the community.”

Find out more about the work of the foodbanks and how to help at southamptoncitymission/basics-banks.

Pictured: Vicky McKillen, Basics Bank foodbanks manager for Southampton City Mission, receives a cheque from Richard Taunton Sixth Form College students
Pictured: Vicky McKillen, Basics Bank foodbanks manager for Southampton City Mission, receives a cheque from Richard Taunton Sixth Form College students