Help Stop Hunger

While many families are busy hoisting up Christmas trees, stocking up on seasonal food and decking the halls with boughs of holly, others are struggling to make ends meet. Figures from The Trussell Trust, a charity that runs a network of more than 420 foodbanks across the UK, show that December is the busiest month for foodbanks. We talked to Marion Badham, Project Manager at Tewkesbury Foodbank.

When was The Tewkesbury Foodbank set up?

Over four years ago, by the Churches Together Group. It originally operated from Holy Trinity church hall but we now have a centre in Church Street which is open four mornings a week. Clients with a voucher can come and meet us and be given not only food, but advice and signposting. We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of local people. During this year’s harvest collection we weighed in 2170.53kgs of food, that’s a lot of beans and pasta.

 

Who are your clients?

We always say you are only two pay cheques away from poverty, so many of our clients are just like you and me: hard working and law-abiding people who, for whatever reason, find themselves in crisis. We have a whole range of people coming in to see us, teachers, self-employed electricians, builders, domestic abuse victims, and people suffering from long term illness, particularly mental health problems and cancer. None of them expected to find themselves in the situation of having no food to feed themselves or their families. We try to offer, not only food, but steer them towards services like money advice and Fuel Banks which help to break the cycle of poverty. Our volunteers also offer tea and biscuits, and a chance to chat. We keep lots of tissues to mop up the tears and we hope that by the time the clients leave us they are feeling stronger.

 

How can people access help?

To receive food from a foodbank you would need a red voucher. These are given out by our referral agencies - over 70 organisations, ranging from doctor’s surgeries, hospitals, schools and local government agencies such as the Housing Advice Team and CAB. This means we don’t have to make a judgement about whether or not a client is in genuine need, as they are often known personally by the referring agent. By using this system we’ve only had the odd isolated cases of misuse.

 

What supplies are provided?

Enough food for a three-day emergency supply of stock cupboard items. The foods have been carefully chosen to make up three well balanced meals for three days. In addition, in Tewkesbury, we are able to provide vouchers for use at our local greengrocer and butcher. The funding for this has been mostly given at a local level and has proved a welcome addition, especially for families. We also benefit from the Fareshare food scheme, which allows us to collect bread, cakes, fruit or vegetables which is near the end of its sell by date, one evening a week, from our local Tesco Metro.

 

Does that vary throughout the year?

In the summer we ran a school holiday meals project, providing families with food for a mid-day meal five days a week for six weeks. This was a lifeline for many. In Tewkesbury alone, we gave out food for 78 adults and 196 children, that’s 1,585 meals.

 

And currently?

Covering the costs of cold weather and having children at home during the school holidays make December a difficult time for a growing number of people. Pair this with something unavoidable like redundancy, illness or a delayed benefit payment, and you have a recipe for disaster. In December we’ll be running our Christmas Blessings project. Again, we aim to again target families in need. We try to give them food items that are not on our official food lists, such as mince pies and custard, tinned ham, savoury biscuits, Christmas cakes, chocolate for the children (Father Christmases, reindeers, selection boxes) and also some goodies for the adults too. We’re also busy squirreling away small toys and toiletries ready to give out. Bredon Knitting Circle has been busy knitting scarves, mittens and hats for us. Plus we help the Salvation Army by supplying them with food to distribute through their own Christmas hamper scheme.

 

How can we help?

We are very busy, and always welcome visitors. Giving food, money or time ensures help is there for people when it’s most needed. If you would like to volunteer to help at your local foodbank please call 01684 296824 or email info@tewkesbury.foodbank.org.uk for more information. We welcome donations of food, however large or small, but we also we need financial donations to help us run our centre and our van. If you run large business, do please consider sponsoring your local foodbank for which you can claim a tax exemption. Please remember, every time you donate to a food bank you are sending out the message to someone in crisis, that they matter and you care.

 

Find Tewkesbury Foodbank at 76 Church Street, Tewkesbury GL20 5RX.

 

Foodbanks operate at several locations across Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

 

To find out how to help your local foodbank search for their website via

www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank and click on the links to Give help/Donate food.

 

 

www.trusselltrust.org
01684 296824

 

 

 

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