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Thatcham community larder returns and celebrates six month success



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The Thatcham community larder has just celebrated six months of tackling food poverty and has returned after a small closure over Christmas.

The larder has been operating since June 23, 2021 and has seen 500 per cent growth, with service users now renewing their memberships.

Members can shop for fresh produce and are entitled to 10 non-perishable items, stock that is given to the larder which would have otherwise needlessly gone to landfill.

Vicky Roseblade with The mayor John Boyd and Deputy Mayor Jeff Brooks. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196026)
Vicky Roseblade with The mayor John Boyd and Deputy Mayor Jeff Brooks. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196026)

Any leftover produce, like fresh vegetables and pasta, goes to the Newbury Soup kitchen and the Small Animal Rescue Sanctuary.

Leader of the Thatcham Community Larder Victoria Roseblade said the larder is something that “everybody should be entitled to use”.

She said that the larder was a success as many people found supermarkets “daunting” during the pandemic.

Some of the fresh produce on offer at the larder. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196018)
Some of the fresh produce on offer at the larder. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196018)

“I think coming to the larder, because it’s staggered and there’s not a huge amount of people there, they felt more confident to come out and use the larder as opposed to big supermarkets,” she said.

“We have got a lady who comes that’s blind; we have got a lady that comes that is short sighted, hearing impaired and these are all people who, if they need a lift, we will pick them up bring them to the larder and drop them back off afterwards."

The mum of two added: “We had the mayor and the deputy mayor, they came down the week before we opened to the public for a mock larder.

“It was a fantastic afternoon, they were quite keen to see the larder opening. Thatcham Town Council have been amazing.”

A mock larder was held before official opening. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196020)
A mock larder was held before official opening. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196020)

Finding volunteers and getting started during a pandemic wasn’t a struggle for Mrs Roseblade as she recalled getting three volunteers within five minutes of announcing a need for help on social media.

With the help of friends, family, former colleagues and a former pupil, Mrs Roseblade was able to put together a team.

She said that the easing of restrictions was a “really big turning point” as people went from not being able to socialise to making friends at the larder.

Elaine with Thatcham Mayor John Boyd. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196016)
Elaine with Thatcham Mayor John Boyd. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196016)

She said: “Suddenly we were able to have chairs and tables together for people to actually socialise. And people have got friendships going just because of the larder.

“People have made friends and they meet up outside of the larder, which I think is brilliant.”

The former Kennet School teacher went on to say: “I have always had children’s welfare at heart really, that’s the reason why I became a teacher because I wanted to help the next generation.

Some of the non-perishable items on offer. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196024)
Some of the non-perishable items on offer. Picture by: Thatcham Community Larder. (54196024)

“Now that I am not teaching I still can do it, but benefitting younger children.”

As well as providing edible produce and other household shopping items, the larder has offered free school uniforms, sanitary products, and Covid tests.

The space, in Frank Hutchins Community Centre has also been used as a social spot, to make friends, get advice on financial matters and vaccines.

Both young and older people can take part in the free toy and book exchange, something that Mrs Roseblade said has been “so popular with adults and children alike”.

She said: “The kids just come in and go straight to the books now and take it home with them, which I think is really good.

“It is also about expanding children’s outlook on life and their education as well.”

Though the future seems bright for the larder, Mrs Roseblade said more volunteers would "always be useful" for setting up in the morning and packing away in the evening.

She said: "I am really excited for the future of the larder, I think when I first started I wasn’t sure how it would be welcomed and it is. People are just renewing their memberships, which is fantastic.

"We could always use more volunteers especially as its growing. We are absolutely flat out from when it opens to when we finish."

She also called on local businesses and services to offer advice, discounts or classes.



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