Posts in '2020'

Colchester Foodbank: Asda Fight Hunger Create Change

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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 breadth of services they can offer people to help prevent someone needing a food bank again in the future.

This month we are collectively marking our two-year anniversary of the partnership and sharing stories of the difference it has made to people’s lives. A year on from receiving their grant funding, Colchester Foodbank has been able to achieve everything it had planned over three years. Michael Beckett, who is the chief officer at the food bank, explains what has been made possible…

Michael: Paramedics came to us after tending to an elderly lady who had collapsed in the street. When they took her home, they found her cupboards were bare – she had been surviving off half a bag of sugar that she’d been making sugar water out of as she had nothing.  The paramedics knew that unless she was helped with extra food, she’d collapse again as she had nothing until her pension came in the next week.

We were able to make sure she had enough food to see her through. This is the vital support we can give people– and with the Asda grant we have been able to double the amount of volunteers we can take on – we now have 150 helping us.

Unfortunately, we have seen a huge increase in need for our services, especially since people have moved onto the new benefits system Universal Credit. People are having to wait five weeks until they receive their first payment and so are going without.  Since that change from 2018 to 2019, we have experienced more than a 30% increase in demand, most worryingly a 41.4% in demand for children.

Our Asda grant has enabled us to take on a warehouse supervisor and the difference this has made is incredible. It has freed up much more of my time and not only enabled us to increase the amount of volunteers we have helping us – but we are now able to open on Saturdays, have opened at two extra locations and have been able to take on a long-term storage unit. This change has helped us facilitate this increase hugely.

Our increased capacity means we can better help the hospital discharge team with vouchers for food parcels, as well as social workers and schools.  Not only that, but people fleeing domestic violence and moving from refuges to a new home are able to come and we can provide them with items such as cutlery, crockery and a tin opener, as well as food, so they can settle better into their new life.

Being able to provide such support can be the difference between helping people at risk of having their children taken into care – or losing their home – because people are forced into situations where they cannot provide – or pay their rent.

I am so grateful to our volunteers who all work so hard day in and day out – and to Asda for giving us the opportunity to double the capacity of our volunteers, treble our footprint and accommodate a third increase in demand. Without that generous extra funding people would suffer because we wouldn’t have had the resources to cope.

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Two years of Asda Fight Hunger Create Change helping to create a future without the need for food banks

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A blog post by
Samantha Stapley
Chief Operations Officer

It is unacceptable that anyone in our country is forced to turn to a food bank. We’re working hard to reach a future where everyone has enough money to buy their own food, but we know we can’t get there on our own.

That’s why this week we’re marking the second year of our three-year Fight Hunger Create Change partnership with Asda and FareShare, and looking back at our work together so far.

A huge amount has been done in the first two years. Day in and day out thousands of our volunteers offer more than just food to people coming to food banks across our network and we want to ensure everyone who needs a food bank’s help receives the best possible support.

Not only has this partnership made it possible for more than 63,000 people to access fresh food last year, with that figure expected to rise in the year ahead – but it has enabled incredible specialist roles and services in food banks across the country to become a reality.

Food banks have been able to apply for grants to resource advice workers, support workers, counselling services, community fundraisers, warehouse managers and much more to help unlock people from the grip of poverty.

Take Ali at Ribble Valley Foodbank, for example. Ali, a past food bank volunteer and trained counsellor, was able to set up a tailored counselling service, the Gateway, with an Asda grant and built a team that has supported more than 50 people in the past year.

One young mother told her: “I’ve never felt so heard and understood by a therapist before and the lasting effects of my time with Gateway have been amazing. I now have the understanding and the tools to effectively navigate negative situations that arise.”

As well as this kind of holistic support, other projects have been able to get off the ground, such as a holiday club at Selby Foodbank. The food bank’s plan was to help people missing out on free school meals during school breaks by creating a special one-off family voucher for a parcel that would last five days, with sample menus.

The scheme has helped provide more than 5500 meals for children, enabling families to spend money on other essentials during the holidays.

But there is a second, transformative area of work the Asda Fight Hunger Create Change partnership has been instrumental in supporting. While our incredible volunteers continue to work tirelessly to support communities, we’re determined to reach a future where no one is forced to a food bank.

Right now, far too many people across our society are facing hunger and that’s just not right. But it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of the UK’s future.

With cutting edge research and compelling evidence, we can work with policy makers to help find solutions moving towards an end to the need for food banks. Our partnership has been fundamental in supporting our work with academics to produce State of Hunger, the largest ever piece of research into hunger and food bank use in the UK.

This three-year project, carried out by researchers at Heriot-Watt University, will help us to understand the scale of hunger and poverty in the UK and is already informing our advocacy, campaigning and long-term work to move closer to a future where everyone has enough money for the essentials.

We are determined to ensure no one in their community goes hungry. Better still, we are determined to end the need for food banks in the UK – and the Asda Fight Hunger Create Change is helping us get there.

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Transforming compassion into action: how you can support food banks by campaigning for long-term change

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A blog post by
Emma Greenwood
Area Manager for South West England

One of the greatest privileges of my job is spending time with our amazing food bank teams. Living, breathing, walking embodiments of our key values of community, compassion, dignity and justice.

I spent yesterday morning with a small group of project managers. We were discussing what their roles entailed – the list of responsibilities went on and on and on.

Stock management, volunteer recruitment, volunteer management, health and safety, safeguarding, data protection, social media, external relations, donor relations, fundraising…

All that and the capacity to drop everything and deal with whatever issues are facing the people that arrive on their doorstep on any given day.

Handing out parcels of emergency food is part of what they do, but also advocating and signposting people to the support that is available. Spending time listening. Helping people join the dots of what support is available to them. Inviting often isolated people into community – making people aware of local social activities. Giving practical help. Small acts making a big difference.

In the face of rising numbers of people coming through their doors, what these project managers achieve is amazing.  Some are paid, others volunteer. These are the people that achieve the impossible – whatever they are faced with, they get the job done.

But it takes its toll.

Mentally, physically, emotionally.

An increase of 23% of food parcels given out across the network equals an increase of 23% on the demands of our volunteer base, on the time and energy they are devoting to make themselves available to those experiencing crisis.

It’s fantastic that across the country we have so many volunteers turning their compassion into action. Using their skills and life experience to help others. The truth is they shouldn’t have to be giving out emergency food parcels to people in increasing numbers.

Volunteers should not be bearing the mental, physical and emotional burden of supporting those who are driven through their doors when we know there are things that could reduce the amount of people needing their help.

Understandably the work they are involved in does not leave our food bank teams a lot of time to campaign for change. This is where you can play your part.

Become a Trussell Trust campaign supporter and join us in calling on the government to:

  • End the five week wait for Universal Credit
  • Make sure benefit payments cover the cost of living
  • Invest in local emergency support for people in crisis

Food banks should have no place in our society. We know that with your support #ThisCanChange

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