Police van becomes food delivery truck Gloucestershire Constabulary Martin Surl PCC Gloucester Food Bank

Gloucester Food Bank can now go the extra mile to support its local community, thanks to a new food delivery van provided to the charity by Gloucestershire Constabulary and the OPCC. The former police van is unmarked and will be sold to the charity for the highly discounted price of GBP1. After working tirelessly throughout lockdown to continue its service to the community, the food bank has faced an enormous rise in demand.

Since March, it has also accommodated drastic operating changes, including a switch from in-person pickups to contactless deliveries, completed by volunteers in their own cars. Following a volunteering visit to the charity in 2019, Rod Hansen, chief constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary noted how the charity was struggling to get food to the people who needed it. That need only became more essential during 2020 as the pandemic took hold.

Mr. Hansen said: “After volunteering at the food bank, a few of my colleagues noticed that staff were using their own vehicles to move food between different locations, picking donations up from supermarkets and delivering to those who couldn’t get out of their homes. It dawned on us that this was something we could help with.

I spoke with the PCC, Martin Surl, to see if there was something we could do. I’m delighted we’ve been able to make a difference to this charity, which does so much to support people in the city.” Gloucestershire’s police and crime commissioner, Martin Surl, is responsible for policing budgets and owns the force’s fleet of vehicles.

He said: “The chief suggested that we sell the food bank a vehicle for a very reasonable price, so we’ve settled on GBP1.

“This is a real need in Gloucestershire, and we are more than just a police force, we want to be part of the community. So I’m delighted we’ve been able to help on this occasion. I’m grateful to the chief for suggesting it, and I think it shows what a compassionate and special force we have in Gloucestershire.

“The staff commented on how useful it would be to offer a delivery service, so they could provide food parcels to more people in the city. I realised this was an area where we could help, and alongside the PCC, we worked to find a suitable vehicle. I’m delighted we’ve been able to help such a worthy charity, which has given so much during the last six months.”

Anneliese Sterry, project manager of Gloucester Food Bank, said: “I’m astounded really. We’re very pleased because it will mean we can expand our outreach to people who live outside of the city boundaries, rather than them needing to get to us for help. Especially with Covid restrictions, we’re able to deliver to people who are shielding or support more people with disabilities.

It’s not going to just be useful for now, but also in the future for people who need our help. We’re incredibly grateful.” Under normal circumstances, the Ford Connect van would be sold at auction at the end of its life within the fleet, but was selected by the constabulary’s fleet manager to be sold for GBP1 to support the charity.

The vehicle has been given a new MOT and service by the in-house vehicle workshop and will be taxed and insured by the food bank before they drive it away to its new home.

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