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Three Bridges, Crawley Tesco store gives a helping hand to veterans in need

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Lee Matthews, former Queens Royal Irish Hussar.

British armed forces veterans who face hardship and distress have benefited from a military annual fundraiser, with a little help from a Tesco Crawley store.

Former members of the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars met up at the 4th Worth Scouts Hut in Crawley to reminisce about past events and enjoy their yearly BBQ.

They also had a range of fundraising events on the day, raising £537, with all proceeds going to The Veterans’ Charity.

Throughout the pandemic, the charity has continued to deliver vital support to veterans and their families, including food shopping, essential household products and toiletries, utilities credit, clothing, and smartphones to enable continued communication and to prevent isolation.

Many of the items donated to the veterans’ fundraiser came from the Three Bridges Tesco Extra store, whose staff are keen supporters of the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars’ annual event.

Martin Weathers, a Tesco staff member and fundraiser for The Veterans’ Charity.

Martin Weathers, a Tesco staff member and fundraiser for The Veterans’ Charity, was among those at the event, having served with The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars.

He said:

“I’m very grateful to Tesco for their generosity. Our annual BBQ was extremely enjoyable and entertaining, and it continues the brotherhood that most people miss after leaving the Forces.

“Leaving service life can be a dreadful time, especially for those who have been in for a long time, and some may have associated physical or psychological problems such as combat post-traumatic stress disorder.

“This is why get-togethers like this are so important, and Tesco’s contribution to helping us raise funds for service-people in need is incredibly important.

“It helps to provide much-needed funds for The Veterans’ Charity, enabling it to supply things such as basic food shopping for our most vulnerable veterans who have fallen on hard times.

“This year has been the busiest ever for The Veterans’ Charity, with more than 540 welfare requests. These are often referrals from other charities, but some have been directly from struggling veterans themselves, and all of them were satisfactorily resolved within 24 hours of the charity being contacted.”

Tesco has a long association with the Armed Forces, dating back to Tesco founder Jack Cohen and is a signatory to the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Covenant. About 300 Tesco employees are members of the supermarket chain’s Armed Forces Network, and the supermarket is one of the largest employers of reservists and former service personnel.

Matt Ayling, manager at the Three Bridges Tesco Extra store, said:

“We’re really pleased to be able to help the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. Its members are amazing people and we all have a lot to thank them for, so our store is always keen to assist them if we can.”

Charity

Crawley’s first ever ‘Free Supermarket’ opens in Three Bridges to support community

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On Sunday (8th November} Crawley’s first ever ‘free supermarket’ opened its doors to the local community.

The Free Shop Crawley is a store run by volunteers with the sole purpose of providing locals with food, toiletries and baby essentials without any associated cost.

Inspired by Marcus Rashford and his campaign to have school meals funded year-round, the stores inception came about when four local women shared a common desire to create a safe place for people in need to come and receive help without fear or shame.

Laura-Jane Wainwright, one of the founders of Free Shop Crawley said:

“Having used food banks in the past, I know first-hand how degrading it can feel.  We wanted to create a dignified space where anyone in need could come and access essentials in a friendly and inclusive environment. The thought of children going to bed hungry and adults losing sleep over financial anxiety broke our hearts and we knew we had to use our skills and resources to help”

Shoppers are encouraged to take up to 10 items from the shop each visit giving them a full basket of daily necessities. Anyone is eligible to visit the store and although there is a ticketing system in place the team are ready to welcome anyone who is in need.

The shop offers a fresh produce section, toiletries and sanitary care, tinned and dried goods, nappies and formula and even children’s clothing and toys.

In week one alone, over 100 people have been fed by the shops offering, showing just how big a need there is for support in not just this area but country wide.

Local businesses have been quick to support the store donating essentials by the van load, even down to kitting out the shop with shelving, tables and hanging racks. Companies including Asda, Co-op and Tilgate Bakery have committed to donate to the store each week.

Free Shop Crawley can be found at CJ’s café, Kingsland Court, Three Bridges, Crawley, RH10 1HL, on Sundays from 2pm-4pm.

Anyone wishing to donate or find out more can visit the Free Shop Crawley Facebook page www.facebook.com/freeshopcrawley  or contact the team direct on freeshopcrawley@gmail.com

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