Sutton Town Hall to aid food banks

Town Hall to be used as donation drop off point.

The Trustees of Royal Sutton Coldfield Community Town Hall Trust, the charity which runs Sutton Coldfield’s Town Hall has confirmed that it will collect donations of food for local food banks during the current COVID-19 crisis.

This is because the normal collection centre, which then distributes to two food banks in Erdington has had to close due to volunteer shortages.

The Town Hall was scheduled to stage Tudor Musical Theatre’s production of Legally Blonde last week, followed by a sold-out comedy show featuring Bill Bailey this Friday. Since government restrictions were brought in on social distancing, all shows after 15th March and into the summer are postponed until later in the year and into 2021.

The Town Hall will continue to operate with skeleton staffing for blood collections and community requirements resulting from the coronavirus crisis. The first request for help was from The Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, which runs Six Ways Baptist Church and George Road Church Food Banks in Erdington. Food and household items are urgently needed by both these and other Sutton Coldfield Food Banks in the coming weeks, as more families than ever are hit by the economic impact of the virus.

In a statement, The Trussell Trust said, “Those who have the least resources to cope with this crisis must not be forgotten at this time. Some of the specific challenges we face as a result of the spread of the virus are:

“A significant proportion of our 28,000+ volunteers are older people, many of whom are now not able to volunteer because they are in higher risk groups.

“Many of the people who need to use the food banks in our network have health issues and so may be needing to self-isolate or comply most strictly with social distancing guidelines.

“Maintaining food stocks at a time when many people are going out less or are more urgently focused on providing for their own households.

“Potential for increased demand where workers are being laid off or shifts reduced due to impact on businesses.”

Gerald Goshawk, who runs Erdington Foodbank, explained, “Erdington Foodbank is already one of the busiest in the whole of the UK. We are now experiencing heightening demand; together with increasing pressure to deliver to people who are in isolation; and major problems with obtaining food donations. We would be so massively grateful for help from the people of Sutton Coldfield.”

“Any non-perishable foodstuffs are appreciated, but our current priorities are UHT milk, sugar, tinned custard, pasta sauce, coffee, fruit, packet rice and rice pudding. We will soon need to replenish stocks of meat, vegetables, fish, cereals, vegetarian meals and tomatoes”.

Non-food items such as feminine hygiene, toilet rolls, deodorants and soap are always needed. Those who cannot leave the house at all or who would prefer to donate money for stock can do so via the website

Birmingham City Council’s Mick Brown commented, “As a councillor for Gravelly Hill Ward where residents often depend on the good work foodbanks do to support their local communities, including the ones at Six Ways Baptist Church and George Road, as part of the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network.

I can only thank them, the trustees of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Hall Trust and the many people who make donations to this essential service. Whether donating one item or ten, every item makes a difference to the collective effort to support individuals and families at this difficult time”

MP for Royal Sutton Coldfield Andrew Mitchell added “At this very difficult time for everyone, our Town Hall and its staff and friends are playing an important and safe role in supporting this vital work. I want to thank them”.

The Town Hall will accept donations of food to its main entrance foyer on Mondays and Fridays for the next few months, commencing Friday 3rd April, 10am –2pm. Donors can incorporate the drop off into their daily exercise or park in the short term spaces by the Cenotaph in King Edwards Square. Staff are engaging in strict social distancing to reassure donors.

The Town Hall’s Managing Director Julie Rennison will be one of those staff on site. “Locals can simply drop off any donations in the entrance vestibule – we will wave a thank you for the other side of our inner glass doors!” Those who want to help while self-isolating can donate to the website mentioned, who will buy in bulk food stocks to distribute locally.

The Town Hall will not be keeping food on the premises and it is a drop off point only, not a food bank collection service. Over the coming days, the staff remaining at the town hall will push the message of donations via social media. Local comedy actress and voice over artist Josephine Enright from Erdington, has volunteered her services in narrating an information advert. The Town Hall would like to engage a volunteer video editor to compile a short piece from home. If interested, contact Town Hall MD Julie Rennison at [email protected]