A key part of the Fight Hunger Create Change partnership between Asda, the Trussell Trust and FareShare is a grants programme for food banks in our network, providing crucial additional resources to increase the breath of services they can offer people to help prevent someone needing a food bank again in the future.
Emma Murray from Bristol North West Foodbank explains what their successful grant application has meant for people referred to the food bank…
About a year ago we took on the ambitious move to try and take on an advice worker ourselves at the food bank on a nine-month contract.
Immediately we started to see the huge positive impact it was having on people referred and we were thinking, why have we not done this before? We have to keep this person! So we applied for a large Fight Hunger Create Change grant through the Trussell Trust, because we wanted to really commit long term to having a more holistic approach as a food bank.
One example of the difference that’s been made is Jack’s experience*. When he came to the food bank, he’d been sleeping by the river for eighteen months in a tent in Bristol. We helped him with food, and he had a wash in our sinks, that sort of thing. He started turning up every Monday morning, and as we got our advice worker she was able to work with him and connect him up with the local support services at Shelter.
The whole process meant he was off the streets before winter and he quite literally said ‘I think I would have died if I had spent another winter out sleeping in a tent’.
The team there are now looking at putting him in more permanent location. For Jack, having someone right at that crisis point in a food bank centre, who had the expertise, connections and time to sit down and look at what support was needed, was totally life changing.
No one should need our food bank – Jack should never have been in that position in the first place. That’s why we’re part of the Trussell Trust network, working alongside other food banks to campaign for long-term changes that will bring us closer to a future where there’s no need for food banks.
But while that long-term work is underway, we want to do all we can in our community to make sure people like Jack can access the best possible help right now.
As a local charity, it would have been hard for us to make that leap to employ someone permanently to give advice, and now we’ve got that grant it’s kick started something and I think it should work for as long as that’s help is needed. So we’d really like to thank Asda and the Trussell Trust – having someone paid who is able to commit to providing that service in the food bank in the long-term is making a huge difference.
We work really hard to create a welcoming atmosphere in our centres, a space where someone can feel comfortable to tell us why they need a food bank, over a cup of tea or coffee. And now we have an advice worker across all of our four food bank centres, we know that we really can help somebody once they share something with us. Together, we can take those steps towards making sure they don’t need our help again.
*Jack’s name has been changed