Our Story

How The Trussell Trust got to where it is today...

The Trussell Trust supports a network of over 420 foodbanks, working out of more than 1,200 foodbank centres, to provide emergency food and support to hundreds of thousands of people in crisis in the UK. So it may be surprising that our work first started in Bulgaria.



Our story began with Baby Boris

In 1996 Paddy and Carol Henderson met Baby Boris, a street baby living at Central Railway station with his 14-year-old mother. Paddy and Carol were working for a UN feeding programme at the time.

Paddy tells us:

Baby Boris was really, really small and very vulnerable and very smelly! I used to cuddle him and he craved it and would nestle into my fleecy top while the mother ate her food. I vowed we would keep him alive over the winter. We used to bring him formula milk and try and get his Mum to use clean water. He lived! Later Baby Boris was taken into a baby orphanage.

We had seen the horrendous state of many orphanages and wondered what was better for him: life on the streets with a drug addict teenage mum or in a baby orphanage where conditions were likely to be dire? I knew that his mother really loved him. It was then that I had to do something to get these 60+ kids off the streets and away from glue-sniffing, drugs and child prostitution.”


The Trussell Trust is founded

Carol and Paddy Henderson founded The Trussell Trust in 1997 based on a legacy left by Carol’s mother, Betty Trussell.

Moved to help forgotten people, The Trussell Trust’s initial Bulgaria projects focussed on improving conditions for the 60+ children sleeping at Central Railway Station in Bulgaria. The Trust’s work soon expanded not only in Bulgaria, but in the UK too.

The foodbank is born

Whilst fundraising for Bulgaria in Salisbury in 2000, Paddy received a call from a desperate mother in Salisbury saying: “My children are going to bed hungry tonight – what are you going to do about it.”

Paddy investigated local indices of deprivation and ‘hidden hunger’ in the UK. The shocking results showed that significant numbers of local people faced short term hunger as a result of a sudden crisis.

Paddy started Salisbury Foodbank in his garden shed and garage, providing three days’ of emergency food to local people in crisis.

In 2004, the UK Foodbank Network was launched teaching churches and communities nationwide how to start their own foodbanks.

garden shed in Salisbury
Garden Shed in Salisbury

Local communities

Passionate about the impact of working with local communities to discover and find solutions to local need, The Trussell Trust has launched several practical and innovative projects in partnership with local communities since its foundation in 1997.

As well as our foodbanks, our Social Enterprises provide vital funds as well as volunteering opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities.

The important work we started in Bulgaria is now being continued by our international partner FSCI, to break the cycle of poverty in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. This includes the House of Opportunity Programme, which offers unique support to help Bulgaria’s orphanage leavers to build successful futures free from crime, prostitution and drug abuse.