Nearly 4,000 children in Tonbridge area found to be living in poverty

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NOURISH Foodbank is appealing to the Tonbridge community for donations after a report found there are thousands of children in poverty in the area.

Figures produced by End Child Poverty show that in December 2015, 3,975 children (17.4 per cent) in Tonbridge and Malling are classed as living in poverty.

Trench Ward in Tonbridge is the most effected, with 30 per cent of children living in poverty.

The figures are based on a variety of factors, including household income, receiving out of work benefits or in-work tax credits.

It is on the back on these high levels of poverty that Nourish decided to expand their operations into South Tonbridge in October.

The charity has established themselves as a leading provider of emergency sustenance relief after four years working in Tunbridge Wells.

It provides three-day emergency food supplies to those referred to them by various organisations, such as social services and domestic violence charities, who have deemed people in urgent need. People cannot simply request donations for themselves.

In Tonbridge, they are working with fellow food banks Sustain, in North Tonbridge and The Gift, run by River Church which covers those in the surrounding area. They currently deliver between five and ten food packages a week.

Despite only being in the town for less than three months, the people of Tonbridge have been ‘incredibly generous’, according to Nourish Trustee Marianne MacDonald. She cited donations of food hampers from Tonbridge Grammar School, Hillview School for Girls, Hayesbrook School, the Schools at Somerhill and Tonbridge School as evidence of the town’s giving spirit.

There is currently a donation point in the Lloyds Bank at 121 High St, Tonbridge where people are encouraged to give food essentials and toiletries.

Marianne said: “Last year we delivered Christmas dinner to 46 families in Tunbridge Wells. Without the generosity of the wider community, they wouldn’t have a Christmas.

“At the moment we don’t have many donation stations in Tonbridge but we are optimistic that people will be filling up the one in Lloyds. We do know from the harvest donations we have had from the various schools that people in Tonbridge are incredibly generous.

“We have had quite a bit of interest in the reverse advent calendar initiative as it’s captured people’s imaginations at a time for giving. We have found in previous years that people really do think of others in the community at this time of year, which is great as the child poverty figures show how much their support is needed.

“With 17 per cent of children in Tonbridge living in poverty, that means in an average school class there are around five children who are living in households that are struggling to make ends meet.

“Most of the people we support are working, but sickness, an unexpected bill or a change in working hours could be all that is needed for them to need a helping hand from in the form of an emergency foodbag from Nourish.

Dawn Stanford, the Nourish Operations Manager, added: “We have had a quiet start in Tonbridge but the feedback we have had from the agencies that we are currently working with is that we are a welcome addition to the support they provide.

“Our aim for 2017 is to increase the number of donation stations we have in Tonbridge, to build on our relations with local schools and to reach out to local businesses who want to support those in need within their community.”

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