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BASIC Life Charity Celebrating 20 Years



Although the charity had been donating to meet local needs as far back as 1997, it was on 24th January 2000 that it became registered formally with the Charity Commission.

So much has happened over the last two decades. The first shop opened next to the former Safeway (now Morrisons) back in 2000 with the idea being that we could offer Christian support to local residents in a practical way and without the need to preach or force our beliefs on anybody.

The idea became a success and over the years we have grown to now having two traditional charity shops (17 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe and 312 High Road, Walton) and a storage and distribution centre.

We have donated financial support to countless individuals over the years and have also provided funding to all doctors surgeries, the schools and many local groups and local charities. We have paid for free breakfasts for the pupils of two local schools for over five years now.

In March 2013 we opened food banks at each of our shops but quickly realised that we weren’t meeting the needs of all people suffering from food insecurity. It became clear that the need had not deepened but had broadened to now include those in work and affected more families. To answer this need we prompted supermarkets to offer their still good to eat, but no longer for sale, items to us. After a considerable amount of negotiating we are now official partners with supermarkets such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Lidl, Morrisons and Aldi. We collect around 500 kilos of food per week and redistribute it to local residents via our ‘Pop-Up’ shops.

We came up with the ‘Pop-Up’ shop model as our way of making sure everybody who needed food would get some without any reference at all to their means. They are open to all. The result has been an astounding reduction in local referral-based food bank use. The Pop-Ups now total four per week across Felixstowe with another held monthly. There are others in Leytonstone, Ipswich and Martlesham.

We are attempting to obtain Government support to enable the model to be adopted nationwide as we see it as the only way back into ‘shopping’ for those who need food support. While food support is only a very small part of our work it is the work which is seen mostly by the public.

At the same time we are still meeting the needs of local people and are operating a very significant online presence with 1500 books listed on Amazon and just under 1000 items continually on sale on Ebay. We also sell items at local auction houses to enable us to pass on the proceeds to local people.

Thank you to all who have supported us over the last twenty years and the volunteers who have been amazing with their dedication and hard work. We are always very pleased to receive donations and our PayPal address is

Many thanks,

Graham Denny – Founder/Administrator

The BASIC Life Charity

Reg. Charity No. 1079263Vat No. 786903579

27 Schneider Close, Felixstowe, IP11 3SS

01394 674810 – – FB: The BASIC Life Charity


Felixstowe’s Tara Cross Shows a Little Care Goes a Long Way



Tara Cross works full time in the shipping industry, but during lockdown while working, she’s been volunteering to assist those in need. Here she is to tell you a bit about the things she’s been doing…

During lockdown I saw a post on Facebook for a group called Felixstowe Helping Hands which I then joined. I collected and distributed Helping Hands leaflets to my road and four neighbouring roads and was allocated as a volunteer for anyone in need in those roads. At the start of the group being setting up by Darren I was contacted to ask if I could assist one of my neighbours who are shielding in getting food shopping for them. At the time many shops were sold out of the items they needed so I had to get their shopping from three different shops so they had everything they needed. Thankfully since then items are easier to find and I have been doing their shopping every time I go for my own shop and are continuing to do so at the moment. When I drop their shopping off I always stand outside for a few minutes and have a friendly chat. They have asked on a couple of occasions when shopping for them if I could pick up myself some flowers as a thank you which is so kind. Each shop I pay for on my bank card and we have an arrangement where I give them the receipts and they transfer the money straight into my account to pay me back.

A lady who was no longer able to shop for an elderly friend as her husband was unwell, got in touch. To help her, I arranged for another volunteer, Matt, to assist me as and when needed, with the food shopping. Not long after, I received a call from the elderly lady’s neighbours to say that she had had a fall, so I contacted BASIC Life Charity who assisted by providing a zimmer frame. I dropped the zimmer frame off at the lady’s house but I felt unhappy about leaving her without being checked over. So after numerous phone calls I managed to get an ambulance out to her. I explained to the paramedics that she will need home help when she comes out of hospital, to which they advised this would be set up. With help from a kind neighbour, Rose, we contacted a family member to assist us with the lady’s care. I call Rose every few weeks to get an update and to check how the lady is doing. I also have been in contact with her friend who had previously done her shopping to let her know how the lady is getting on and to assure her she is being looked after.

I’m no superstar and there are many people locally who are doing way more then me, but together we all make a huge difference to the most vulnerable and those in need in Felixstowe. I’m so happy I’ve been able to make a difference to some peoples lives and would like to think if I was every in a situation where I needed help that there would be someone there willing to help me. Felixstowe is a lovely place to live with great community spirit and this unfortunate situation had shown what a great bunch we all are. I’m so proud to live in such a friendly and caring town.



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Annual Felixstowe Event “Suffolk Remembers” Goes Virtual for Suffolk Day 2020



A popular Suffolk remembrance event traditionally held in Felixstowe will go ahead despite the current challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Following government advice, provided at the beginning of May, St Elizabeth Hospice’s memoriam event, Suffolk Remembers will this year be held virtually to ensure everyone remains safe during this time.

The annual event, sponsored by the East of England Co-op Funeral Services, usually sees 5,000 candles displayed along Felixstowe seafront on Suffolk Day as hundreds of people gather to remember their loved ones.

This year however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Suffolk Remembers is scheduled for Sunday 21st June and will now be broadcast as an online video for those who have dedicated a candle to a loved one to view.

Pauline Donkin, Individual Support Manager at St Elizabeth Hospice, said: “We’re devastated to have to transform Suffolk Remembers in to a virtual event, but after many discussions over the last few weeks, we feel that this is the safest way to remember our loved ones at this time.”

As with every year, the candles will be displayed across the large Suffolk Remembers letter boards, with the first letter S dedicated to those who have been lost to COVID-19 in Suffolk and relatives are welcome to share the names of their loved one which will then be added to a candle in dedication.

The online broadcast will also include the traditional musical accompaniment of Pop Chorus and the Martlesham Brass Band, as well as readings and poems from nurses at St Elizabeth Hospice.

Pauline added: “It was really important to us to reserve a space for those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic. This event, although run by the hospice, is for everyone and not only those who have used the services of the hospice. It allows everyone in Suffolk a moment to reflect and remember a lost loved one and to know they are not alone.

“Each year, our goal is to light 5,000 candles in memory of those who are no longer with us. These dedications and donations help us to continue looking after our patients in the hospice and the wider community, particularly during this difficult time where a lot of our events have been cancelled and our charity shops are closed which affects our fundraising efforts.”

The video will be published on the hospice’s Facebook and YouTube channels on Sunday 21st June from 2pm.

To support St Elizabeth Hospice or dedicate a candle please call 01473 723600 or visit

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Emmaus Suffolk



Local charity doing something for the community and the environment.

Emmaus Suffolk is a new and different way of decreasing the chances for the homeless and long term unemployed in Suffolk. Unlike the traditional Emmaus model, at present we do not have residential accommodation, but we work with and encourage our non-residential companions to enter back into the workplace and to lead a more fulfilling life. 

We opened our Dales Road hub in 2016, followed by our retail unit in Sailmakers Shopping Centre in 2017 and our Felixstowe shop in 2018. We are continuing to grow, providing more opportunities and support for our non-residential companions. Everyone at Emmaus plays a part in keeping the community and the business running smoothly.

One of the great things about working at Emmaus Suffolk is that you never lose sight of the people that you are working for, literally. The people that we help, the community that we are building are here together every day. There is no faceless corporate machine, no head office in a faraway place detached from the people we are helping and the people helping us. No one is too important to make their own tea or make tea for anyone else, or help fulfil a café order if they happen to be in the kitchen. And yes, tea is important – we’ll take a Yorkshire if you’re buying.

If you’re old enough to remember, you may be thinking this all sounds a bit too much like the Waltons, a bit too saccharine. Okay, so there are occasional EastEnders style dramas but they blow over as fast as they arrived. Generally, we are one big happy slightly dysfunctional family that solves its problems with a good chat and a cup of tea (disclaimer: this article is not sponsored by the UK Tea Council, we just like tea – especially with a toasted teacake in our Community Café – shameless plug alert).

Our hub at The Dales is always busy, occasionally slightly manic but still manages to be a haven for many.  Whether people come to keep themselves busy, combat loneliness or to learn a new skill they always find a willing ear and often in turn become one themselves. We include our customers when we talk about our community as many of them are regulars who visit the café and catch up on all the news and have formed friendships with volunteers and staff.

D’s Story

One of our positive stories comes from D who started coming to us in June 2018. She is classified as disabled and unable to work, formerly she owned a beauty salon. She found being unable to work left her isolated and lonely at home. D said, “Coming here has stopped me from being alone and really helped me to feel part of my community again, coming here means I am not isolated and alone at home. It feels like a family here and people are very tolerant.

“I don’t have to explain myself on the bad days, companions look out for each other and there is always support.”

D has completed the customer service and retail course offered at Emmaus Suffolk, accredited by Derby College. She is currently completing the Mental Health awareness course NVQ level 2 and volunteers in all areas of the shop including running the till.

Valentine’s Story

Valentine, 55, came to Emmaus Suffolk as a companion on a day release scheme; we provide long-term day release placements for prisoners from Hollesley Bay Prison. During a nine month placement with Emmaus Suffolk he worked in a range of roles at the Dales, Ipswich including working in the up-cycling workshop, running the till, supporting the coffee shop, restocking and pricing donations.

Valentine said, “Joining the team at Emmaus Suffolk has made a huge difference in my life.”

“The team there are like a family to me, there is no them and us – just us.”

Valentine was released from Prison in July 2018 and gained a place at Emmaus Greenwich with residential accommodation. Valentine is currently completing a Masters degree with Anglia Ruskin University.

He is looking to gain a job in project management and exploring starting his own business within the shipping industry.

He has not re-offended and his future is looking very positive.

Our Personalised Shop

In the corridor which leads through to the shop we have a mural painted on the wall by one of our volunteers. It is a tree and the leaves are quotes from volunteers about their feelings and their experiences with us. 

If you visit us at Dales Road take a minute and read a few, guaranteed to warm your cockles.

·   It has reduced my drinking and made me less depressed. 

·   I find it easier to talk to strangers than previously. I have less anxiety generally. 

·   If I make a mistake it doesn’t matter, I am supported in how to do this correctly. This makes me feel safe and able to move forward. 

·   I have been made to feel valued. I feel safe here.

It is never a dull day here and never a day goes by without us celebrating a victory however small for one of our companions. Please take the time to pop into one of our shops if you’re passing and soak up a bit of the atmosphere, you won’t regret it.

Future Plans

House Clearance project:

Development of a social enterprise based on a house clearance business the intended outcomes being:

• Primarily to enhance the opportunity for non-residential companions to gain different work experiences . • To generate additional income which will contribute to the self sufficiency of Emmaus Suffolk

Micro Housing project:

Development of a social housing model for 3 residential companions.

• A housing opportunity that offers a holistic approach to accommodation, support and meaningful activities. • “As a tenant you will have more than a roof you will have a home.”

Get more information about Emmaus Suffolk here.

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