As The Burton Mail's Feed our Families campaign got under way this week, we thought we'd tell you about the vital charities we well be raising donations for.

Every year, as part of the Feed our Families campaign, we team up with a number of charities which work tirelessly with the Burton and South Derbyshire communities to ensure people who are struggling are clothed, fed and watered, by giving them a that helping hand.

Feed our Families sees generous readers donate thousands of items of food, like tins and packets of pasta, which are then distributed by the food banks to the needy. We run our campaign at this time of year because we fell no family should go without at Christmas time.

This year we have chosen to share the donation from the campaign between four charities, which all play a part in helping the needy right here on our doorsteps.

We spoke with representatives from each of the causes who told us why their dedicated volunteers have spent years giving their time to help others, and how this year’s Feed our Families campaign, could mean the difference between life and death for some locals.

Once again we will be supporting Burton YMCA, which has bases in Hawkins Lane and James Street, after the need for its food bank soared over recent months.

Chief executive Paul Laffey said he was delighted that the Burton Mail has opted to run the project for a fourth year, and he has "seen first-hand how the donations can be lifesaving."

He said: "I would like to thank the Burton Mail for running their Feed our Families campaign for a fourth year. We are delighted to work with them and have seen first-hand the good the campaign can do.

"This campaign is much needed in the community especially over the Christmas period when people are seeking additional support. It might be families on low income who are anxious about how they are going to provide for their children, while others may be suffering unemployment in the run up to Christmas which can be such a burden.

The Burton Mail Feed Our Families Campaign 2017
Paul Laffey - Chief Executive of YMCA Burton
Paul Laffey, chief executive of YMCA Burton is delighted to be taking part in this year's Feed Our Families campaign

"Last year’s campaign was overwhelming and I think everyone was astounded at the generosity of the local community. By putting it in the spotlight the Burton Mail are doing a great service for the wider community and showing them that there is no need to feel guilty in asking for help.

"This will be a lifesaver for some. We have witnessed the growing demand and there are still people struggling who do not know how to access the service.

"This sends a message that it is okay to come forward if you are in crisis; no-one is going to be judged.

"The YMCA’s food bank has been running for 16 years and it cannot be underestimated just how big a problem this is at the moment particularly at Christmas time.

"We have direct contact with those in need of emergency help and we will make sure that the donations go to the individuals and families who are desperate and for whom it can make a difference."

Alongside the YMCA is the Eaton Foundation, which is also based in Burton and works to help men with mental health problems and wider issues.

Chief executive Alex Eaton, 33, said being asked to be a part of this year’s campaign was amazing as the charity had never been involved before, but feels it has "cemented its position in the town" as one of the vital services.

He said: "We offer emotional support, advocacy and help with debts, benefits and housing, work based help such as CV’s and food banks which all our clients are given access to.

"Last year we gave out more than 1,500 food parcels which we were quite shocked by. The amount of people we help differs from week to week and ebbs and flows but on an average week we tend to give out 50 parcels. It is usually chaps who have had their benefits sanctioned and are living in poverty.

The Eaton Foundation, based in Shaftsbury House in Burton
Supporting the Burton Mail - Feed Our Families 2017
Pictured L-R: Alex Eaton, Seth James, Donna Owen, Rachael Lewis
The Eaton Foundation, which is based in Shaftsbury House in Burton is going to be on the receiving end of the Burton Mail's Feed Our Families 2017 campaign. Pictured L-R: Alex Eaton, Seth James, Donna Owen and Rachael Lewis

"We don’t restrict people. If they are in need they can have a parcel."

Alex believes that although poverty is an issue all year round, Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for lots of reasons.

He said: "I think Christmas is the sort of time that is difficult for lots of people, not just those in need of support but it is also the time of year that hits the empathy inside of people.

"I think it is amazing to be involved in such a massive local campaign; it is really good to put the charities on the map and it helps the people who will be receiving the donations. We get told all of the time by clients that if we weren’t here they don’t know what they would do.

"This will give people a sense of relief and the more donations we have the more people we can help."

Joining the two charities above is the South Derbyshire CVS which benefitted significantly from the campaign last year.

Direct service manager Karen Mitchell, said local people are in dire need of support and the campaign will do more than help them make ends meet.

Karen, 58, of Overseal, said the service was "very vital" and offered a range of support including food banks, a community fridge and a dedicated staff member who worked to get people the help they need to prevent them from having to return to food banks.

The South Derbyshire CVS will once again be supported by the Feed Our Families campaign. Pictured inside the food bank is Karen Mitchell and volunteers Jeanette Webster and David Webster
The South Derbyshire CVS will once again be supported by the Feed Our Families campaign. Pictured inside the food bank is Karen Mitchell and volunteers Jeanette Webster and David Webster

She said: "We offer a range of services to benefit people at different ends of the needs scale. We have food banks that are made up of fresh and tinned produce donations from Fairshare, Sainsbury’s, Birds and Greggs and we use that to support individuals and families and local causes such as P3 and Bank House.

"We also run a community fridge which is open to the public and donations are supplied by Sainsbury’s and the public. It is often used by young families and pensioners who don’t quite need a food parcel but need a little extra support.

"We are also lucky to have a full time member of staff who offers additional support to get to the root of the need and signpost clients further to get them the help they need.

"Our service is very vital. It is a lifeline and it helps people to make ends meet, but there are added benefits like young families using the community fridge to get their children to try new things.

"There is no ignoring the fact that people are in dire need of food and we do our best to go above and beyond to help."

Karen said the charity is "absolutely delighted" to have been chosen as a recipient for this year’s campaign as it enables the food banks to strengthen its stock.

She said: "I took part last year and it made such a huge difference. The stock was virtually empty before but the containers will be bursting after Christmas which will continue to support people through the year. It means a lot.

"Donations are continuous but tend to dry out during the summer months and from April 1, this year 506 parcels have been given to people with 283 distributed this month alone.

"It is increasing as are the number of parcels we give to the homeless so the more stock we have the more people we can help and there is never too much because we can freeze some foods to make them last longer.

"This campaign really helps because it is concentrated. It brings in a large amount of stock and raises awareness about the plight of the hungry. It is desperately needed."

Last, but certainly not least is the Burton branch of the Salvation Army which is called upon time and time again to provide food parcels for hungry families.

Paul Ellis is the food bank co-ordinator at the venue which operates from Rangemore Street. He said the Salvation Army was the main referring food bank in Burton and it works with all the local agencies in the area to "help anybody that needs it".

The Salvation Army, based on Rangemore Street in Burton
Supporting the Burton Mail - Feed Our Families 2017
David Howell - Volunteer and Paul Ellis - Foodbank Coordinator
The Salvation Army, based on Rangemore Street in Burton will receive donations from the Feed Our Families 2017 campaign. Pictured is volunteer David Howell and food bank coordinator Paul Ellis

Paul, 66, said their seven-day food parcels has helped 1,519 adults and children this year and the volunteers are very pleased to be working alongside the Burton Mail for this campaign.

He said: "Everyone is looking for food parcels at this time of year. Christmas week is our biggest week and this will be very important.

"It is not a good time to be in need of a food parcel at the moment and if there isn’t any stock you can’t help.

"We are very fortunate that churches donate to us regularly but this year we have struggled. Like most agencies we are fortunate enough to have been replenished by harvest festivals over the Christmas periods but our stocks do take a hit during this time and it surprises me how many parcels are required all year round as well as at Christmas; There is definitely a need."

Paul, who has been a volunteer for three years, said last year the Salvation Army distributed more than 200 family parcels in the week leading up to Christmas.

Launch of the Burton Mail Feed our Families campaign for Christmas 2017
Monday, November 20 marked the launch of the Burton Mail's Feed Our Families campaign 2017

The service distributes seven-day parcels according to the size of the request for the family.

Paul said: "Our average parcel for one person costs about £47 per parcel, so if you calculate that up for one week alone you will see the amount of food we will need to meet these demands for the people of Burton and the surrounding area.

"The service is monitored but we appreciate benefits issues can take more than six weeks to sort out and the size of our parcels saves people having to keep coming back."

Paul said the Salvation Army food bank, which has been operating for more than 30 years, was thrilled to be involved with the campaign this year.

He said: "We were involved in the first year of the campaign and it is much needed in the town. This year social services have already contacted us about people that will need our help this Christmas and we think the impact of this campaign will be unprecedented.

"Love Inspire, Citizens Advice, and Onerecovery all refer to us so we have a very wide client base.

"I appreciate that people have habits such as drugs and alcohol and they will feed those habits before they feed themselves but even people who go to work struggle to pay the bills because they are on low income.

"This campaign can really do some good and it will let those that need our services know we are here."

How to drop off to the recipients

Salvation Army - Rangemore Street, Burton. Open from 9am until noon Monday to Friday. To contact, call 07514666759

YMCA - James Street, Burton. Contact them on 01283 547211 or 01283 538802 or

South Derbyshire CVS - Grove Street, Swadlincote. Open from 8.30am to 4.30pm on Monday to Friday. Contact them on 01283 219761 or 01283 817411

Eaton Foundation – Orchard Street, Burton. Open from 10am until 3pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 10am until 2pm on Saturday. Contact them on 01283 568341 or

What can you donate?

Items which you can donate:

  • UHT milk (500ml or 1 litre cartons or screw top bottles)
  • Coffee
  • Teabags
  • Sugar
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Tinned meals
  • Tinned meat for Irish stew, chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognese, ravioli, macaroni cheese
  • Tinned hot dogs
  • Minced beef, curry, meatballs, etc
  • Tinned pies
  • Corned beef
  • Tinned or packet vegetables
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned tuna, salmon, sardines, etc
  • Soup
  • Baked beans
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti hoops
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Rice
  • Savoury rice
  • Noodles
  • Pot Noodles
  • Rice pudding
  • Custard
  • Biscuits
  • Cereal bars
  • Crackers
  • Crisps
  • Chocolate
  • Jam

Where can I donate?

For many people Christmas is a happy time, but for some it can be anything but.

A few pounds could be the difference between a family in need eating or going hungry. Just 50p could buy a tin of soup, and help keep a child warm. So where can you donate? We are appealing for people to pop one extra tin in their weekly shop and donate that. Of course, if you can afford more that would be brilliant.

There will be drop-off points at Burton in Sainsbury's, in Union Street, and Sainsbury's, in Civic Way, Swadlincote, with many more businesses soon expected to get involved.

If you are a pupil at a local school, check if there is a donation point there and if not, ask your teachers to get your school involved.

Punch Taverns is backing the campaign, as are schools including Granville Academy and Paulet High School.

We want you, our generous readers, to also donate, whether that be setting up a collection point at your youth club or in the pub. If you want to get involved, please contact reporter Rhea Turner on 01283 245047 or email

And over the next few weeks we will bringing you stories of everyone who donates.