“THIS is perhaps the simplest decision you will ever have in your careers” are the words of a Basingstoke councillor who is urging leaders to save a local charity from collapse.

As previously reported, Community Food Link (CFL) Basingstoke has made a final desperate plea for help to find a new premises before the end of July, because the URC church, where it currently operates from, needs the space back.

Read more: Basingstoke food charity in desperate need of new premises

The charity, which launched during lockdown, saves food from Basingstoke supermarkets from going to landfill which is then used to feed more than 2,000 people in the town every week.

Cllr Michael Howard-Sorrell, a Labour councillor for Brookvale, Kings Furlong, and Town Centre, urged the council to offer the charity empty retail space so it can continue its vital operations.

In an email to the council’s cabinet members, Cllr Howard-Sorrell said: “They are providing a service that is beneficial in so many ways, yet from what I can tell, our intention as a council is to simply let them collapse?”

He added: “What we need now is action. We have six weeks until the borough loses this vital resource – what will you do to stop it?”

Cllr Howard-Sorrell highlighted the empty retail space in the town, the “strong links” with property owners across the borough, and empty spaces owned by the borough council.

He added: “I’ve done all I can as a ward councillor, what we need now is for you, the cabinet, to demonstrate some leadership and figure this issue out.”

The Labour councillor said that losing the charity will “put us back at square one”, with working relationships with the supermarkets lost.

He added: “The individuals who rely on this service will have to lean even more heavily on food banks or go without. The network of volunteers, including my partner and on occasion myself, who have been giving 180 hours a week to this charity will be lost…

“This is perhaps the simplest decision you will ever have in your careers. Please act, now.”

CFL provides around 2,000 people with food every week and has delivered more than 150,000 meals since it launched in 2020.

Volunteers sort and repack the food collected from supermarkets to deliver to charities and churches in Basingstoke, who then distribute to those in need.

Penny Dilley, who set up the charity, said: “We have tried all of our outlets and gone to the churches and council and no one has come back to us. It’s rather disappointing.”

CFL will have to move out of the church on August 31 and has set a deadline to find a new premises by the end of July, when a final decision will be made on its future.

“It will be a great shame if we have to close,” said Penny, adding: “We’re feeding 2,000 a week now so it will be a significant loss. We have spent the last few years building relationships with the supermarkets which has taken time and commitment. The food we pick up will go to landfill and won’t be used. We are picking up a huge amount of food from the stores.”

If you can help CFL in its search for a new premises email contact@bcfd.org.uk.

CFL is part of the Starfish Enterprise Trust charity and run by a small team of people from churches around Basingstoke.

To find out more about the project or to make a donation visit bcfd.org.uk.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s chief executive Russell O’Keefe said: “The council values the work the Community Food Link group does for the benefit of local residents. We have been made aware that the charity needs to find a new home.

"As with any request that we receive from a charity, we have looked at property in the council’s ownership but we do not have any premises available which would be suitable for the needs of the charity.

“We have encouraged Community Food Link to approach Basingstoke Voluntary Action, as the borough’s umbrella organisation for the voluntary sector, as they coordinate a number of food distribution hubs across Basingstoke and Deane and may be able to help link the charity with another organisation or premises which meets their needs.”

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