A fiver for five years of Foodbank
Swindon charity Foodbank – which provides emergency food to people in crisis – was five years old in November, and with the number of people using Foodbank continuing to increase as a result of the recession, organisers have put out a birthday appeal.
Project manager Richard Belsham said, “we’ve been so thankful to all those people who have donated food over the last five years – it’s truly been amazing and we’ve been able to assist hundreds of people. But if anyone would like to help us further, with a small donation of £5 – a pound for every year we’ve been in operation – that would be brilliant.
“We’ve also had a super support this Christmas. There has been a tremendous spirit of festive fundraising.”
Foodbank provides boxes with enough food for three days, giving clients’ time to find help for their situation without also facing hunger. Families are referred to them by front-line care professionals such as health visitors, social workers and children’s centres.
Richard added, “you might think there aren’t any issues of poverty in an affluent town like Swindon, but in reality 1 in 6 adults live close to the edges of their finances, with no safety net. It means that a sudden crisis – such as ill health or delayed benefits – can leave families struggling to put food on the table. The number of people we fed in a month doubled from 2008 to 2009 and this has increased during this year. Who knows if the level of need will grow?
“We couldn’t do the work we do without the support from the town. All the food is donated, whether at our supermarket collections or by community groups or offices making monthly collections. In five years we’ve given away over 667,500 tins of food – more than 100 tonnes.
“We have about 250 volunteers who sort and pack the food, and even our finances are totally voluntary contributions – in five years donations have paid for the warehouse, the van, all our running costs – and we’ve never yet missed a bill. But we know we could do more.”
Pictured, top, November 2005, at Shaw Ridge Primary School, SwindonLink published the first Foodbank school collection picture. Bottom, Richard Belsham with youngsters at Westlea Primary School in November who this year collected over 283kg of food, the largest ever school collection.