A CARE home "task force" is helping community food banks in their bid to support families in need over the Christmas period.

It follows the introduction of food donation boxes at Colten Care’s head office at Ringwood and its 21 care homes in Hampshire, Dorset and two other counties.

Staff, residents’ families and other donors have dropped off hundreds of essential items.

New Forest Post:

Colten employees have helped by taking donations direct to their nearest food bank, seeing first-hand how parcels are assembled and distributed.

Lorraine Bell, of Linden House, Lymington, said she was left "humbled and in awe" following her visit to the New Forest Basics Bank.

She said: “The volunteers who give their time for free are incredible. It was a privilege see what they do. This is humanity at its best.”

Lorraine was even moved to write a poem about her experience. Oliver Stanley, chairman of the bank, has been reading it out to volunteers as they pack food parcels and hampers.

He said: "What Lorraine has told us brings a tear to my eye, such is her sincerity and goodwill.

"We are so grateful to Colten Care, their contribution has been absolutely outstanding. Over this festive season we are filling and delivering hundreds more parcels and boxes than normal and we really couldn’t be doing this without such support.”

Staff at the Woodpeckers care home in Brockenhurst have helped out.

As well as collecting items for Lyndhurst Food Bank, they have provided a spare Christmas tree for a family who would otherwise have gone without.

New Forest Post:

Katja Williams is companionship team leader at the Castle View care home in Dorchester.

She said: “We all recognise the vital services that food banks provide for our local communities. The pandemic has had a huge impact with much greater demands from people needing their support. ‘Tis the season to be giving and we are only too happy to do our bit to help.”

Mark Aitcheson, Colten Care's chief executive, said it had been "truly heart-warming" to see the response of staff, care home residents and their families.

"Everyone is on board with our goal of supporting vulnerable people at this time of rising demand for food banks," he said.