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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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My New Year’s Resolution? To use the voice I have to campaign for change

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

I’m reflecting on a busy week for the food banks I support across the South West.

I’m simultaneously saddened and angered by the increase of people coming through their doors; whilst in awe of the time and energy given by so many volunteers to cope with this increase in demand.  They must all be exhausted after probably their busiest Christmas ever – but still showing kindness and offering support to those in need.

People have been generous – warehouses are over-flowing with donations of food and its good to see financial donations coming in that ensure these organisations can continue to keep their doors open.  Thank you.

I’m often asked what people can do to support their local food banks – and yes, donations of food are really important.  Please get in touch with your food bank first to see what food they are most in need of – but hold off dropping anything off until January now as most are finding it a squeeze at the moment.

But do you also know else you can do?

Don’t accept that this is normal.  Continue to be shocked and saddened by the news of increased food bank use and think about how you can play a part in working towards a future where food banks are not needed.

We know hunger in the UK is not about lack of food.  It’s about people not having enough money.  And we know that things need to change.

Everyone can play a part and challenge the structural issues that lock people into poverty.

So, my New Year’s Resolution is going to rise to this challenge – to use the voice I have to campaign for change.

Who’s with me?

You can sign up as a campaigner or ask for a volunteer pack to help us end the need for food banks. We know that with your help, this can change. 

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What do party manifestos tell us about the way forwards after today’s election?

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As election day unfolds, I want to look at the direct impact food banks and our charity partners have had on the pledges political parties have made in the hope of securing votes today.

The impact of food banks’ collective voice on party manifestos is clear.

The Conservative party has confirmed they will end the benefits freeze and add safeguards to Universal Credit. The Labour and Liberal Democrat party manifestos both recognise the message of #5WeeksTooLong and promise an end to the five week wait for Universal Credit. The SNP manifesto promises to make up the losses in benefit payments caused by benefits freezes and cuts, while Plaid Cymru, the Green party and others talk about the need to make changes to our current benefits system.

We shouldn’t take this lightly. 

That widespread, cross-party recognition that our benefits system should be working to protect people from poverty is new. And it hasn’t happened by chance.

These pledges to make much-needed change are because we have worked together so closely with our network food banks and countless other charity partners over the last year, putting time, energy and resource into highlighting the reasons why people need food banks, and crucially, what changes would prevent people needing a food bank in the future.

Irrespective of who wins this General Election, we must continue to press forward. Elections are not just for Christmas after all!

These party manifestos are an indication of the difference we can make on people who have the highest level of decision-making power. We are already making a difference – poverty can be solved and you can help.

Join us as a campaigner today and make your voice heard.

This can change.

Emma Revie

Chief Executive  

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Bristol North West 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 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

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How corporate volunteers make a difference

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Pierrette, who works in finance for Delta Air Lines, has volunteered with the Trussell Trust multiple times as part of her workplace’s corporate volunteering programme. Here, she explains why she thinks it’s so important.

Volunteering opportunities are definitely part of Delta’s company culture – we’re encouraged to volunteer as much as we can, and I’ve volunteered with the Trussell Trust three times now.

Volunteering at the food bank is such a great experience. The people who work there are so lovely. They do a lot for their community every day and are so appreciative of any help they can get – it’s really humbling to see that. Hopefully, the work we did will be helpful to the food bank and the people they support.

I think it’s important to contribute to society, and I hope a lot of other people feel the same. I think we take a lot of what we have for granted, while there are so many people out there who need help and support, and it’s important to give our time back.

We all might find ourselves in a situation where we need extra help, so it’s important to make sure the system of support is there when someone needs it. And it starts with each of us finding the time to be there for each other.

 

Volunteers like Pierrette play a vital role in supporting people in crisis. Without them, the food banks in our network couldn’t provide the services they do and many thousands of people would go hungry.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Trussell Trust, check out our volunteering pages now and get in touch. You could work in one of our offices or charity shops, sort food in a food bank warehouse, help out at a food bank, and much more.

We’re committed to ensuring that all of our volunteers feel welcomed, valued, and respected. We are hugely grateful to everyone who volunteers for the Trussell Trust and for the food banks in our network. Together, we are making great progress in the fight to end the need for food banks in the UK – and you can help too.

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Help end the need for food banks this Christmas

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Christmas is only a few weeks away. No doubt lots of people are already looking forward to the festive season, thinking about their Christmas dinner or what gifts to buy their families.

Christmas is supposed to be a time for joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming increasingly difficult, with more people than ever expected to need to use a food bank during the festive period.

The food banks in our network work incredibly hard throughout the year to make sure that people in crisis get support. Christmas is often their busiest time, and you can help make sure that they have the supplies they need to meet this increased need.

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing – and having fun! Challenging yourself to some festive fundraising is a great way to get together with friends, family or colleagues and raise money for a great cause at the same time. Whatever your age, whatever you enjoy doing, there’s a way for you to help. Check out some of our fundraising ideas and make your Christmas even more special by supporting our work to help us end the need for food banks in the UK.

  1. Sign a Star This Christmas: Wish your friends and colleagues a Happy Christmas by signing on a star this Christmas with our special poster and donating to the Trussell Trust. Download the poster here.
  2. Hold an Elf auction: Be a helping hand for the day, morning, or afternoon, offer your services as a present wrapper, or auction a home-cooked meal.
  3. Christmas Angels: Ask your colleagues to bring in a photo of themselves as a baby and pay a small entry fee to join the competition to guess who these bundles of joy are now!
  4. Golden Cracker: If you’re heading out for a Christmas party, ask everyone to purchase a Christmas cracker. Put a special small gift in one of the crackers – no matter who gets the prize, everyone’s a winner as they’re all making a donation to the Trussell Trust.
  5. Desk decorating competition: Add some festive cheer to your office and have a little competition to see who can create the best winter wonderland at their desk.
  6. Secret Santa: Instead of spending £10 on a gift, why not limit your team’s purchases to £5 this year and donate the extra to the Trussell Trust?
  7. Cook up a (snow)storm: Whether it’s a gingerbread man competition, festive bake off, or mince pie madness, have fun while fundraising with a festive bake sale.

Once you’ve chosen your idea, plan your fundraiser – remember that Christmas is a busy time of year, so even the simplest activities might need some planning! Let people know about your event with posters in your office, social media posts, or personal invitations and then have fun!

When you’ve collected your money, you can pay it in at www.justgiving.com/campaign/christmascommunity2019. If you’d prefer, you can give us a ring on 01722 580 180, or post your check and any sponsorship forms you used.

You can also text ‘2019CHRISTMASCARD’ to 70450 to donate £2. This costs £2 plus a standard message rate. All donations sent through JustGiving or text come directly to us.

Need more inspiration, have a question, or simply want to find out more? Email fundraising@trusselltrust.org or call 01722 580 180. We’d love to see photos of your festive fundraisers so join #TeamTrussell on social media!

Whether you’re donating, fundraising, or taking part in an event, you’re helping us to continue our fight to end the need for food banks in the UK.

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Why does the Trussell Trust work with supermarkets?

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We work with food banks in thousands of communities across the UK – all providing vital help to people who would otherwise face hunger. No one should need a food bank, but while the rising tides of poverty continue to sweep people away, we will work with food banks to ensure people who need help can access emergency food and practical, compassionate support.

In order to provide that help while it’s needed, food banks need food donations. Many groups, including schools, churches, local businesses and other community groups, support their local food bank to ensure help is there for local people. We know individuals also want to make a difference in their community, and donating in a supermarket while doing a shop is one of the quickest, easiest ways for people to help.

By partnering with supermarkets at a national level, we’re able to harness more support for individual food banks at a local level while also raising awareness of our work to ensure the best possible help is available to people referred to a food bank. For example, where supermarket stores have permanent boxes installed, their customers can donate regularly, ensuring there’s a continual stream and variety of donated food to food banks in the network;  and the grants available to food banks thanks to our work with Asda have helped ensure the right help is there at the right time, by funding things like welfare advisors to sit in food bank centres and support people at the point of crisis.

Our work with supermarkets goes beyond practical support for people at food banks though.  We’ll always work to ensure that through our partnerships people referred to food banks are given the best possible support while that help is needed, but we will never compromise our mission to end the need for food banks.

Everything we do is underpinned by our work to challenge the structural issues that lock people into poverty. For example our partnership with Asda has already funded the first phase of State of Hunger, the most in-depth research to date into hunger in the UK. This research will act as a benchmark not just for us, but for government and wider society to better understand the structural issues that sweep so many people into poverty and destitution.

We think it’s important to be able to sit around a table with all of our partners, whether they’re a supermarket or another business, and have frank conversations driven by data and insight from our network about why people need food banks and how we can all work together to bring about change.

We know that most people (86%) forced to use a food bank are not in-work. However, we also have a duty to people who are in-work and struggling to afford the basics to understand what is driving the need for a food bank. We’re currently developing our work in this area, with the help of other charities that have more experience working with the private sector to prevent people from being locked into poverty.

We’ll be sharing our data with an expert charity partner to look into why working people need food banks – and then we’ll be drawing on their know-how to talk with government, businesses and communities about why people need food banks, and how we can work together to change things for the better.

There’s a part for everyone to play so we can reach a future without the need for food banks: government, communities and businesses all need to be working towards a future where everyone has enough money for a decent standard of living if we’re going to get there.

It’s not right that 1.6 million emergency food parcels were given to people by food banks in our network last year. We know this can change – but we need everyone to play their part.

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Do working people need food banks?

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You’ve probably heard the news stories – nurses needing food banks, teachers needing food banks, police officers needing food banks.

Every so often we get asked how many nurses, teachers and workers in other sectors use food banks, so we wanted to write about what evidence our network has about working people needing help from a food bank.

Everyone who comes to a food bank in our network is referred with a red voucher from a professional who partners with the food bank – such as a Citizens Advice worker, health visitor or children’s centre.  These professionals ask people some questions to gather basic information so the food bank can provide the right support for people in the household.

From this information, and other detailed research we’ve commissioned, we know the majority of people (86%) at food banks are not in work and are referred after experiencing an issue with the benefits system – therefore a lot of our research and campaigning work is focused on tackling these problems and preventing people needing food banks as a result of them.

1 in 7 people at food banks are in employment, or live with someone who is – the majority of that work is part-time.  We know many people at food banks are single parents or have a health issue – two things that not only put particular pressure on budgets so make people more likely to need food banks, but also make it harder to access the work place, and stay in it.

The overwhelming numbers of people experiencing problems with the benefits system have meant we’ve had to prioritise our work in this area. But we’re not just an organisation that could look at what is driving people with employment to need food banks – as a national network of food banks campaigning for change, we believe we have a responsibility to do so.

We’re currently developing our work on why some working people need food banks, with the help of other charities that have more experience working with the private sector to prevent people from being locked into poverty.  We’ll be sharing our data with an expert charity partner to look into why working people need food banks – and then we’ll be drawing on their know-how to have frank conversations with government, businesses and communities about why people need food banks and what needs to change.

There’s a part for everyone to play so we can reach a future without the need for food banks: government, communities and businesses all need to be working towards a future where everyone has enough money for a decent standard of living if we’re going to get there.

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