Since 2012 Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham has been in discussion about how to bring together all of the council, voluntary and faith organisations in the borough to pool resources and find ways to make services more easily accessible to the local community.
On Friday 11th October ‘BanD Together' (Barking and Dagenham Together) was launched.
Over the past year since the Tory–led coalition government introduced the welfare and housing benefit reforms, food banks have become an unfortunate necessity across Barking and Dagenham, stretching into Havering as well. With food banks reaching double figures and referrals becoming wide spread, some of the independent food banks have found that they cannot keep up with the demand.
BanD Together found that some food banks were well supplied where others were struggling to find stock, in an attempt to co-ordinate the food banks and make sure that they are well supplied BanD Together have launched an initiative to raise awareness in the public eye. Collection boxes along with literature highlighting what a food bank is have been placed in children's centres and Council buildings across the borough – these collection points are linked to the many food banks and when full will be collected for distribution as food parcels.
The office of Jon Cruddas MP has been working closely with the Council, the CVS, a number of children's centres and the food banks themselves to launch this project.
Jon Commented: "This is about empowering local communities to look out for one another, filling the gaps that the Tory-led government have created in society. Nothing highlights these cracks more than the growing necessity of food banks locally.
"We need to address the underlying issues here, but in the mean time we need to be doing all we can to support each other and the sterling work of the food banks. The collection points are now up and running around the borough and I am encouraging local residents who are able, to get involved and give charitably.
"It was great to be at the launch of the BanD Together pilot project, I know all those involved have been working tirelessly to get it up and running. The food collection project is just the beginning and I hope we are able to expand into different sectors over the coming months to make a difference across the board locally."
There are a number of food banks across the borough and if you would like to get help and support you can be referred through a children's centre, the Council for Voluntary Service, the Citizen's Advice Bureau and the office of Jon Cruddas MP.
Jon's office is also acting as a collection point. However due to security regulations, Jon's office asks that you call in on: 020 8593 1555 to arrange a time to pop by with a donation.