Our current projects

Merstham Tuesday Food Bank

Food bank

The Merstham Housing Estate in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead is an area of deprivation which will be re-generated later this year. Many disadvantaged families live on the estate and are in receipt of various benefits. Loveworks, a local charity, runs a food bank there every Saturday morning and one at a different venue on a Wednesday evening which some of our members help at. SI Reigate members provide regular donations of food for both food banks. Those residents who are due social benefits receive their payments on a Tuesday, however some claimants do not receive them for various reasons and can find themselves on a Tuesday in a position of having no cash to buy food for their family. As a result of this and following consultation with the local council Benefits Team, Loveworks decided to run a food bank on a Tuesday afternoon for a trial period of three months providing they could get sufficient volunteers to run it. SI Reigate members took up the challenge and signed up on a rota basis to run it on their own but with help from an experienced Loveworks volunteer for the initial three weeks.

Yesterday afternoon was our second week and three of us spent time stacking shelves with donated items of food. We were disappointed that nobody came with vouchers to collect food but we did have a visit from a local resident who wanted to know what we were doing and acted as a customer which enabled us to make up a dummy parcel of food for an imaginary family of four. This gave us an insight of what to be aware of and how the simple system works using prepared lists of suggested items of food for each eventuality – e.g. 2 adults or 1 adult + 2 children etc.

We have been assured that it will take time to get those in need aware of this additional foodbank and in the meantime we have familiarised ourselves with procedures, spent time with a local resident and chatted with a member of the Loveworks team over a cup of tea and biscuits.

East Surrey Talking Newspaper

The East Surrey Talking Newspaper was founded in 1977 to serve those residents of Reigate & Banstead with visual impairment. The Newspaper was created by Michael Finch, who was then a local Radio and Television shop proprietor. His inspiration came from a talk to the Rotary Club of Reigate during the year in which he was their President.

SI of Reigate and District became involved soon after its inception with the copying of the recordings. The Rotary Club oversee the recordings and delivery. Originally the recordings were made on tapes but as technology has progressed the recordings are now on memory sticks and each recipient has a BoomBox speaker into which they place the memory stick and they can then adjust for volume and pause/rewind/forward etc.

Over the years there have been over 100 recipients but gradually numbers have declined with the advent of local radio, computers, internet and other technology. At present there are around 60 recipients, only a few of whom are in the younger age bracket.

Every two weeks an editor selects items from local newspapers, principally the Surrey Mirror. In the studio four readers read out the selected items, and the recordist produces a master digital file on a computer. Half of the recording is local news and the remainder are magazine items.

The team of SI volunteers copy the master recording onto memory sticks so that there are enough for each of our recipients. The memory sticks are enclosed in bright yellow wallets, and these are then taken to the local Post Office for dispatch. They deliver the wallets at no cost to the Charity or the recipients.

Recipients plug the memory stick into their BoomBox speakers. Once they have listened to the newspaper they return their memory stick in the wallet by the end of the week. The wallets can then be delivered back to the studio ready for rerecording.

The whole organisation is staffed by volunteers.