A new community shop has been launched in Thetford to ensure good quality, affordable food is available to people living close by. 

The Surviving the Covid Winter appeal was launched last month to encourage people and businesses in Norfolk to support the continuing work of local charities and voluntary organisations to ensure no one goes hungry this winter.

The Burrell Shop in Thetford, which has received £40,000 of funding from Breckland Council, is just one example of how the Foundation is using monies raised to combat food poverty in Norfolk.

“Food insecurity has shot up due to the economic fallout from Covid-19, as people’s income reduces,” says Claire Cullens, Chief Executive of Norfolk Community Foundation. “In the first lockdown, 25% of our emergency funding was awarded to food banks and pop-up food distribution networks.”

Despite the huge surge in numbers using food banks, a qualitative study by the Food Standards Agency’s found that many struggling people avoid food charity because they are ashamed of being unable to provide for their family: they would rather cut out meals than accept handouts.

As well as providing emergency support to ensure no one in Norfolk is hungry this Christmas, the Norfolk Community Foundation is taking a longer-term approach to tackling food insecurity: developing sustainable solutions that provide people with the dignity of choice and independence.

“We are hugely grateful to partners such as Norfolk County Council who have contributed £200,000 to the Surviving Winter Appeal to combat holiday hunger and winter hardship this Christmas,” continues Claire Cullens. “Sadly, economic indicators suggest we are on the brink of a deep and prolonged recession and we cannot rely on crisis measures such as foodbanks and community pantries to keep people fed and well into the new year.  Having to accept food handouts on an ongoing basis is no good for anyone’s self-respect or health.  That’s why we are developing a range of projects that give people control and choice when it comes to feeding their families and themselves.”

Judy Dow, Head of Philanthropy at Norfolk Community Foundation, and Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of Breckland Council

The Burrell Shop

The Burrell Shop, which has been created in collaboration with Norfolk Community Foundation, opened in November in the Charles Burrell Centre on Staniforth Road.

Families with children at the schools on the Barnham Cross estate were the first to try the shop which works on a membership basis.  After showing proof of address and paying a one off joining fee of £3.50 per household, members can buy fresh, frozen, dried and tinned food, alongside toiletries, nappies and personal care items provided by charities such as Fareshare, HiS Church, the Country Food Trust and local partners.  All products are provided at a hugely reduced cost and there are usually some special offers and free items. Membership will be widened to the entire Burrell Ward in the new year.

Billie Lawler is the shop manager: “Now, more than ever, people in our community are struggling financially. If you have been furloughed and are receiving just 80% of your usual wage, it can be impossible to manage,” she says. “The Burrell Shop will help people stretch their income further to ensure no one goes hungry. The shop stocks a fantastic range of food items and household essentials, and so much more besides.  We plan to introduce recipe cards and cooking advice and have lots more ideas to help our local families!”

The Burrell Shop has been made possible with support and funding from a range of partners including Breckland District Council, local people that care about their community and national funders such as Feeding Britain.  Norfolk Community Foundation is now looking to move quickly to establish similar community supermarket hubs in key areas across the county.

Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of Breckland Council, commented: “As a council, we are fully committed to supporting everybody across our district and I’m delighted to be working with community organisations like the Charles Burrell Centre to support local residents suffering from financial hardship. We have invested £40,000 to get this innovative scheme up and running, which is part of our wider £1 million support package for vulnerable groups in Breckland. I’m delighted the project has got off to such a strong start and sincerely hope to see it go from strength to strength and inspire similar ventures across Breckland and the county.”

If you live in the Burrell Ward and would like to find out about shop membership, please visit between 10am and 12noon on weekdays, plus Monday evenings from 4pm to 6pm, or email billie@charlesburrellcentre.org.uk.

How you can help

Donations to our Surviving the Covid Winter appeal, no matter how big or small, will help ensure no one goes hungry this winter.

  • Donate quickly and securely online
  • Call us on 01603 623958 to make a card payment
  • Send a cheque to Norfolk Community Foundation, 5th Floor St James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN