A number of projects to tackle food poverty, isolation and inactivity have been coordinated during the last year by Suffolk’s largest independent leisure provider, Abbeycroft Leisure.

Festive Food, Reducing Isolation with Food (RIF) and Family Park Cooking have been made possible with funding from Bury St Edmunds Town Council and the Department for Education, plus support from West Suffolk College, West Suffolk Council, Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw and generous donations from numerous local businesses, such as Banham Poultry who generously donated over 450 chickens working with East Anglian Foods Ltd. to help with distributing them.

During 2021, the projects collectively provided over 20,000 meals to families and individuals in financial hardship and this Christmas will provide a further 450 family food boxes and activity packs, 95 Family Park Cooking sessions and take-away boxes, 100 free adventure days with lunch and 200 heat-at-home Christmas lunches and hampers.

Frank Carn-Pryor, Sports & Outdoor Activity Officer at Abbeycroft Leisure has been responsible for delivery of all the projects and coordination with partners and donors.

Frank said:
“It’s heart-warming to see first-hand the difference these projects are making to peoples lives and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of it.”

“The support from our funders, partners, volunteers and local businesses has been overwhelming and I’m hopeful that we can continue to support more families and individuals next year.”

Georgina from Mildenhall attended one of the Family Park Cooking events and said:

“It was a fantastic day from start to finish, very well organised and my boys loved it. They also want to remake the recipe we did together complete with the campfire! My boys have special needs so it can be more difficult and stressful joining group activities, but we fitted in well and were made to feel very welcome. The food box we received was amazing too, great quality and we will use every bit of it.”

Greg Luton, Bury St Edmunds Town Clerk said:

“This is a wonderful project and Bury St Edmunds Town Council is delighted to join all our partners to get things off the ground. We hope the Council’s financial contribution will make a difference to families here in Bury over the Christmas period and beyond. Our Town Councillors are taking an active role, both as organisers and volunteers, and we’re looking forward to seeing the smiling faces of local families in the next few days!’

Claire Waterson from West Suffolk College, said:

“Now – more than ever – it’s essential we think of others. Especially at this time of year. Therefore it was an easy decision for the culinary arts team based at West Suffolk College’s restaurant called Edmunds to step up and once again support this fantastic community project.”


[Picture above taken at West Suffolk College 23.12.21 – credit Phil Morley Photography]

Bury St Edmunds Festive Food Project 2022

After the success of the 2020 Festive Food project, this year we successfully delivered 200 heat-at-home Christmas meals and Christmas hampers to isolated adults spending Christmas day alone.

West Suffolk College and students opened their kitchens for us to use to prepare the meals and hampers and Abbeycroft Leisure coordinated the project, managed donations and volunteers. Abbeycroft also relaunched a social media campaign – The 12 Days of Christmas, sharing simple but delicious and affordable recipes, written by local top chef, James Carn. These recipes were available to everyone, and are designed to help families to stretch money a little further this Christmas.

The final part of the Festive Food Project is the delivery of our Family Park Cooking sessions for families in financial hardship, where we provide a fun family day out at Nowton Park, providing a cooking lesson and a Christmas Dinner and Boxing Day lunch to take away with them. This part of the project has been funded by Bury St Edmunds Town Council and The Department for Education.

Reducing Isolation with Food (RIF) 2022

The RIF project delivered heat at home meals and a doorstep chat to adults living along in Bury St Edmunds during April, May and June 2021. With additional funding from Bury St Edmunds Town Council and Tesco we will continue the project delivering food to adults living alone every 2 months throughout 2022. Food will be prepared by students at West Suffolk College and delivered by the Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw. Abbeycroft Leisure will help continue to help to coordinate the project.

We will aim to source donations of food, to allow the project to be as cost effective and sustainable as possible and either extend the length of the project or increase the number of adults using the service.

Adventure Days at Christmas

100 free spaces and lunch at Haverhill, Bury and Brandon Leisure centres, for children who are receiving free school meals.

Family Park Cooking at Christmas

19 sessions across 8 locations for 95 FREE families spaces for families in financial hardship:-
Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds
East Town Park, Haverhill
Brandon Country Park, Brandon
Mildenhall Scouts Hut, Mildenhall
Jarman Centre, Newmarket
Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket
Stevenson Centre, Great Cornard
Eye Community Centre, Eye

Family Food and Activity Packs

Giving away 450 Christmas Dinner and Boxing Day ingredients boxes and an activity pack to families across the region.
Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Brandon, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Stowmarket, Great Cornard, Hadleigh