Highest demand for families in need in four decades


A Fleet community project, which has helped tens of thousands of local families, is in need of donations of household goods after seeing the biggest rise in demand in 40 years.

The Lions Community Store, in Fleet, provides essential household items to people in need - many have been homeless, in hospital, in refuges or have suffered some other domestic disaster. 

Those in need have been recently rehoused but don't have basic home essentials provisions like a bed or a microwave.

In recent weeks, demand has been so high, coupled with a fall-off in donations, that the charity has run out of stock.

Colleagues at The Co-operative Food - Church Crookham made a donation of £250 to help and are asking their customers to dig out any unwanted items.

Donna Cotterill, Store Manager at The Co-operative Food in Aldershot Road, said: "It was a real eye opener when we went to visit the Lions Community Store in Basingbourne Road. The manager has been there for 40 years and recalled memories of my mum when she was there volunteering.

"They help hundreds of people at their time of need and they all give their time for free. They are a real asset to our community. So it is only right that we do what we can to help them.

"We are proud to be part of Southern Co-op which enables us to support local community projects like this."

The Community Store is operated entirely by volunteers and receives support from the local councils and the Fleet Lions Clubs.

Its services are free apart from a modest delivery charge to offset transport costs and they regularly get about 90 to 100 referrals each month via support workers for people in Hart, Rushmoor, Farnham, Yateley, Hook, Odiham and other adjoining areas.

Manager Beverley Allardice said: "I have been doing this for a long time and the biggest demand is always at this time of year. It is mostly because of the lead up to Christmas as most housing support workers want to get people in before the winter comes and out of the cold.

"This year, the demand has gone up - more than I have ever known. So much so that for the first time ever, we ran out of stock last week. Families want to give their children the things they need for Christmas so one of the first things to go is the rent."

The charity will pick up donations for free on selected weekdays and are in need of furniture, bedding and clothes, white goods such as washing machines, fridge/freezers, and small electrical goods such as toasters, kettles, microwaves.

Collection is available in Farnham, Fleet, Aldershot, Odiham, Farnborough, Blackwater and surrounding areas. They ask people to avoid donations of larger, heavier furniture that is difficult for volunteers to manhandle into flats.

To find out more, visit www.communitystore.org.uk or contact 01252 616998.

The Co-operative Food - Church Crookham is supporting the Community Centre as part of Southern Co-op's community engagement programme ‘Love Your Neighbourhood' which aims to help with creating greener, healthier, safer and more inclusive neighbourhoods.

To find out more about Southern Co-op's commitment to making a difference, visit www.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/makingadifference/.