Can in a Van helps to spread cheer this Christmas

A Festive “Can in a Van” will take place on December 4 for people to donate items to the borough’s Community Hub. Brentwood Borough Council has organized the event after running successful Can in a Van initiatives during the first Lockdown. Large vans will be in position at the Sainsbury’s entrance from 8am-4pm and outside Marks & Spencer in the main high street. Run by volunteers the set up will be Covid secure and the organisations that make up the Community Hub are asking for certain items and, if people can, Christmas offerings including mince pies and Christmas crackers to bring a bit of cheer to families that are finding it tough as Christmas approaches.

Brentwood Borough Council Leader, Cllr Chris Hossack said; “Our residents are the first to come forward when asked to help as the previous Can in a Van initiatives show when we were able to ensure the Community Hub at the town hall was stocked with just about everything. So I am asking again for people to be generous and donate what they can to help the many individuals and families that are struggling, and for whom the Community Hub and the organisations involved are vital. It is Christmas and the festive season can be tough but this year it looks as though it will be even harder for some.”

Chair of Community and Health Committee, Cllr Cliff Poppy added; “Over the last few weeks some of the community hub members have made it clear that supplies are running low as demand increases. We are fortunate in this borough that our residents are always quick to answer the call to help others and that is what we need at this time. We know that among the donations needed are canned fish, meat, meals, fruit, vegetables, pasta, rise, jams, tea and coffee, sugar and rice pudding and toiletries and cleaning products. But I hope that, as people prepare for Christmas with their bubbles, they might add an extra Christmas item to bring a bit of cheer to others.”

Details of the Community Hub members:

The Daily Bread Café

 Due to the new lockdown restrictions the café itself has had to close, but continues to open for food collections. It has seen a huge increase as winter approaches with many more shops now signing up to the scheme that allows volunteers to collect out of date or near out of date food donations to contribute to the service offered.

Donations can be dropped off any morning except Sunday to St Peters Church Hutton CM131JS or to the Town Hall if they are collecting food. We need tins and packets of good and any toiletries.

Manna Meals

Manna Meals continues to support families by suppling homemade frozen meals through the daily bread pop up café and also the community hub at the town hall. Mutual Aid and the light house furniture project have been assisting in distributing these to families. Manna Meals will continue to support families and the vulnerable in the lead up to the festive period.

Brentwood Mutual Aid

Volunteers are still needed to help with increased demand since the new Covid-19 Lockdown restrictions were brought in. From around 50 people a week the group helped 85 last week with collecting medications, shopping and emergency food needs. It offers frozen meals and has set up links with Brentwood and Thurrock MIND to help ease the referral process for those with  more complex befriending needs. Contact details 01277 424 953  Facebook Group:

The Lighthouse Furniture Project

Due to the current Lockdown restrictions the Lighthouse is running an appointment only service for those needing essential items. Demand for the items the Lighthouse sells ranging from electrical items to furniture has risen dramatically since August and the charity is working to respond to the increased needs. The charity is also helping with food distribution through the Brentwood Community Hub. Contact and Donations are still being taken in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Brentwood Resident Action Group

During lockdown BRAG (Brentwood Resident Action Group), were shopping for all those who were shielding, vulnerable or key workers. It also picked up shopping and befriending jobs via Essex Welfare and donated food weekly to all sheltered accommodation across Brentwood and surrounding areas.  As the first Lockdown lifted, BRAG’s focus became more on donations and befriending. Many people were wanting to gain independence and shop for themselves. However, since entering into Lockdown 2 there has an increase in demand for shopping as people are understandably wanting to shield. The need for befriending calls has risen too.

The group desperately need more volunteers to sign up. BRAG’s  Molly Miller said; “Whether you can offer an hour a week to help deliver donations locally, do a small shop or a phone call. Just 1 hour a week makes a huge difference. Ideally for shopping/donations you will need a drivers license and but not essential a DBS. BRAG deliver shopping and donations in pairs due to safeguarding both users and volunteers. Many of our volunteers have regulars and it’s helped both parties with coping in these extreme times.” Contact details: if you would like to volunteer Facebook BragBrentwood and Twitter @bragbrentwood

West Horndon Community Help Hub

This is a small group of volunteers under the leadership of a local resident – Beverly Petty – that was formed as soon as news of the lockdown was given and leafleted all properties in the Parish giving details of the assistance that was available.  The services of the volunteer group were well used with at least 30 vulnerable or elderly residents asking for help with regard to shopping, collecting or delivering prescriptions, collecting parcels or general welfare issues.  Numbers started to fall during lockdown with neighbours and family taking over some of the tasks so that by the end of lockdown the number of local residents receiving assistance had fallen to around ten people.  The Community Help Hub also provided reassurance phone calls to those residents who experienced social isolation and anxiety. It is expected that demand for delivering and collecting prescriptions will grow as the weather deteriorates and vulnerable and elderly will feel less able to attend the local doctors’ surgery in person.  Also, with some residents less inclined to venture out, it may prove necessary for food to be purchased on their behalf and credit extended from funds made available by the Borough Council to the Parish Council until reimbursement can be achieved.  An increase in reassuring phone calls is also expected as the cold weather and longer evenings will make residents feel more isolated.

Contact details: Telephone: 07756 962034 E-Mail:

Vita Health Group This free and confidential NHS service for adults over 18 registered with a GP in the Basildon or Brentwood area continues to offer a full service over the phone or through a secure video link. Free Covid-19 webinars are easily accessible and available online to provide extra support through the pandemic. Aimee Wray from the Vita Health Group Partnership said; “We will continue to increase accessibility and offer a full service. We will be offering more Long-term conditions webinars over the next couple of months as well. We are also working with local services to understand the needs of the local community and develop the service to meet these needs. It would be great if residents could help signpost people to our service. We support people with anxiety, social anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic and long-term conditions (which impacts their mental health).” Contact details: Vitaminds IAPT Service Phone: 01268 977 171 Enquiries Email:

The Blackmore Community Hub which operates in Blackmore, Wyatts Green, Hook End and Stondon Massey. Collection of prescriptions, food or just a chat on the phone are some of the options our volunteers are more than happy to carry out. Contact details: 01277 821464 between 9.00am and 3.00pm.

Donations can be made at any time at the Town Hall where cages are in position for items to be dropped off.

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