It is with great pride that we announce our new pub charity for 2019, which will see us support and raise awareness for the incredible efforts of local charity, Hart Foodbank. With sites in Hook, Fleet and Darby Green in Yateley, these branches serve the whole of the Hart district including North Warnborough, Hartley Wintney and Crookham, just a few areas local to us here at The Red Lion.

Set up in 2011 by Fleet Methodist Church, Christine Siddall started to manage the charity in 2014. Hart Foodbank is a franchise of Trussell Trust, a Christian charity, forming a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK, with the aim of tackling food poverty and hunger here in our own back gardens.

Christine (pictured below with Jamie our Deputy Manager) was kind enough to pop in to meet the team here at the pub, allowing us the opportunity to learn more about the charity and discuss ways in which we can help support Hart Foodbank.

Why Hart Foodbank is so important to our local area

We live in a relatively affluent area of the South-East, however Hart hides its social deprivation well with those who can barely afford to feed themselves living alongside those living comfortably and therefore it can be easy to assume that the need for a food bank isn’t required here in our home town, but more likely relevant to the bigger inner cities.

The sad truth is that it is very much needed and can happen to any one of us, it’s a scary realisation that life’s equilibrium can downturn so quickly.  The high cost of living within the Hart district can make it tough to set aside funds for a rainy day and yet we are all susceptible to the spanners of life that can unexpectedly turn our world upside down. From a low-income family whose boiler unexpectedly breaks, to being made redundant and struggling to find a new role, having to give up work to care for a loved one or separating from a relationship and the setback of losing financial support to pay regular bills.  These are just a few examples to highlight how quickly the onset of debt and payment arrears can occur and potentially spiral, and let’s face it, when we are trying so hard to keep our heads above water and paying the bills, food is often at the bottom of the list of importance. This charity is of huge importance to our local people and community to protect our young children and adults, living here amongst us, who cannot afford to eat a hot meal each day.

Statistics show that approximately 40% of those requiring help from Trussell Trust sites are mentally unwell, whether its depression, anxiety or more, this can make it harder for them to make clear and well-informed decisions with important detail such as their money and health.  The charity feeds over 1,000 clients a year, some require just one-off support, others will be more frequent. The charity works with over 50 referral agencies in the area who will refer individuals and families in need to Hart Foodbank; these include Citizens Advice, GP surgeries, schools, hospitals and churches. There is a thorough process in place to ensure only genuine people in need will receive help and support, which includes registering your details and a voucher system process (i.e. they cannot just turn up and request a food parcel).  One of the first rules learnt as a volunteer at Hart Foodbank is to never judge or have pre-conceived beliefs. You have no idea what each person’s life is like behind closed doors until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Universal credit, with its planned roll-out later this summer, is anticipated to lead to a large influx of new applications for food parcels in the area, as benefits look to reduce in value and up to five weeks wait time to receive funds.  This will affect young and old here in the Hart District and so we want to do everything we can to support the charity.

How does Hart Foodbank provide support to our neighbours in need

The main service the team provides is food parcels. These will be made up for each individual’s needs and will be designed to provide a week’s supply of food. A food parcel will include a range of tinned and packet foods including meat/fish, pasta/ rice, vegetables, fruit, sponge pudding, cereals, coffee, long-life milk etc, plus depending on the needs and requirements, will also include items such as shaving products, nappies, toilet rolls, shampoo and washing powder. There is a consistent flurry of demand for the Hart Foodbank services throughout the year, however there are incredibly large peaks of need in the run-up and aftermath of Christmas (Nov/ Dec/ Jan) and also school holidays, especially the summer holidays, when families are suddenly faced with having to provide their children with a hot meal ( previously covered by school meals during term time).

Christine and her team also work closely with other local charities to support them during peak crisis times including domestic violence charities, Camberley rotary club, Fleet Lions and The Point Outreach in Fleet.

In addition to this, the charity also offers support through running educational workshops. An example would be cookery workshops to teach basic skills in making soup, sauces and stews from scratch. These workshops provide much-needed confidence building and new skills to allow the client to provide their family and themselves with nutritious meals at minimal cost using relatively cheap ingredients.

Christine works incredibly hard to build and maintain relations with local public services to ensure any vulnerable individuals and families are highlighted and directed to the charity. This ensures those in need are aware that a variety of services are available from Hart Foodbank.

Each year, we distribute over 1,000 emergency food parcels to local people in crisis in Hart. That’s 1,000 too many in my mind! I’m proud of our donors, the general public who provide over 10,000kgs of food/toiletries each year. I’m grateful to our 50 volunteers who give up their time for our foodbank guests. Let’s end food poverty in this area!

Interesting facts and statistics about Hart Foodbank

  • Hart Foodbank has four sites within its region to manage – Fleet, Darby Green in Yateley, Hook and The Store (its storage facilities).
  • Christine has built up a team of 50 part-time volunteers (many of whom are retired or parents whose children have started school or flown the nest)
  • The team hand out approximately 10,000 kilos of food per year.
  • The largest donators of food are you, the general public, (via supermarkets), followed by the Church network, private individuals and small businesses.
  • It costs £15,000 per year to run this charity and they receive no government funding

How will we be supporting this charity

Here at The Red Lion, we have our very own ale called Red Mist ale. This is locally brewed and made to our very special, secret recipe. For every pint purchased throughout the year, we will donate 10 pence to Hart Foodbank, plus we have collection penny pots on the bars should you have any loose change to donate.  We will also, throughout the year, host a selection of events dedicated to raising money and awareness.  These will include quiz nights, raffles and special dishes on our menus (where a donation will be made for every purchase) to name just a few.  The monies raised, which will be paid quarterly, will go towards the training of new Hart Foodbank volunteers, the running of educational workshops and towards the operating costs of the charity.

Of utmost importance to the team here at The Red Lion, is the need to raise awareness of Hart Foodbank and the plight of our local neighbours who may need a little helping hand to get them out of a sticky period of time where their funds will not stretch to include food.  We plan to achieve this with regular news and updates via social media and newsletters to ensure the charity is at the forefront of minds. Should HFB have a shortage of particular stock, we will ensure this is communicated to all our customer friends who would like to help so that they have the opportunity, should they wish, to pick something up during their next supermarket visit. Hart Foodbank has established a terrific relationship with Waitrose, where you will find foodbank containers located by the check-outs.

If you haven’t already signed up to our bi-weekly newsletter to receive the latest news and offers direct to your inbox, click here to register.

We will also offer charity days for staff, who will spend a day volunteering, via the Hart Foodbank Corporate Volunteering Programme. If you would like your company or place of work to get involved, click here for more information. We will also be offering the services of our incredible team of chefs who will be thrilled to host workshops in collaboration with the charity to help provide basic cooking lessons. What’s more, we will also (subject to availability) be pleased to offer a selection of private rooms at our sister pubs including The Wellington Arms in Stratfield Turgis and our newest sister, The Castle Inn in Farnham (due to open next month in February), who both have private rooms suitable for training purposes.


We hope you will join us here at The Red Lion in our journey of helping to raise awareness and funds for the Hart Foodbank. If you would like to learn more about the charity, please click here