Swindon Foodbank is reaching out into the community and setting up satellite distribution points closer to people who might need to turn to it for emergency assistance.
The first opened at Freshbrook Church in early February, to be followed by Wroughton, Royal Wootton Bassett, Cricklade, Purton and Highworth.
Currently anybody who has been given a voucher to help them until statutory support is available has to make their way into the town centre to collect food and then is faced with transporting it home, usually by bus, sometimes with a child in a pushchair.
Andrew Hill with Freshbrook volunteers, from left, Pauline Palmer, Lisa tweddle, Marion Hacker, Julie Byrd, Gail Light. Photo: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
"Opening community distribution points pursues the charity’s objective of providing ‘local food for local people" said Andrew Hill of Foodbank.
“Most of the food we give out is donated by shoppers when we hold collection days at supermarkets, or via local drop-off places, such as Hairworks Salon at Freshbrook Village Centre. Starting Foodbank at the church means the charity is embedding itself into the community”
Volunteer manager Julie Byrd said helpers initially are church members but anybody is welcome to volunteer.
“I realised people could sometimes go for days without enough food because they couldn’t scrape together the bus fare to go to town to collect supplies, then didn’t have the energy to carry them home. We couldn’t continue knowing that there are people in the community going hungry.”
Swindon Council statistics suggest West Swindon has the fourth highest need for emergency food relief in the town.
“You never know when you might need help,” said Julie. “Hours can be cut, you might get ill or lose your job. It takes time to sort things out.
"We want to raise awareness that people can collect food in Freshbrook if they’ve been given a voucher which are available from a wide range of agencies.”
Freshbrook Church is open for collections on Tuesdays, 2.30pm to 4.30pm.
Find out more at swindonfoodbank.co.uk