Carpenters nail donation to Swindon food bank

By Barrie Hudson - 30 November 2023

  • Carpenter turned food bank supporter Stacy Coleman, from Corinium Carpentry, was part of the team building a mass of storage shelves

    Carpenter turned food bank supporter Stacy Coleman, from Corinium Carpentry, was part of the team building a mass of storage shelves

A local independent food bank operated by the Swindon Food Collective has opened a new distribution centre.

The centre will take food to those in need in the community, carrying on the work of the Wroughton Pantry, which is closing.

Already playing a significant role in Wroughton, the volunteers of the Wroughton Pantry have merged their operation with the Swindon Food Collective to improve the support they offer to local people. 

This has meant finding a new location and teams of volunteers to run the new distribution centre under the auspices of the Swindon Food Collective. 

Local resident Rosemarie Watson founded the Wroughton Pantry in 2020, storing and parcelling up food donations in her garage with the help of her neighbour, Hannah Cotterell. It quickly grew to include deliveries to families in Chiseldon, Thorney Park, Wichelstowe and Wroughton with the support of an eight-strong team of volunteers.

Over the last 12 months the Wroughton Pantry has given out 120 bags of food to families but the demand and regularity of requests for help has seen a need for a more sustainable operation. At least four of the Wroughton Pantry team will now volunteer at the new Swindon Food Collective distribution centre at The Discovery Church, Markham Road, Wroughton SN4 9JT on Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm.

Cher Smith MBE, manager of the Swindon Food Collective, said “The Wroughton volunteers have done a great job looking after people in their local community. 

"It is their hard work that has enabled people to get help when they needed it most. It will be an honour to carry on their good work through the Swindon Food Collective.”

Builder Wichelstowe LLP has supported the Wroughton Pantry for more than two years and was happy to help again when the food bank needed new cupboards to store the larger amount of stock at the new base. 

Hearing their call for help, a team of carpenters from CoriniumCarpentry, who work at the Wichelstowe development, along with members of the Wichelstowe development team, volunteered their time and expertise to design and build a custom store cupboard tailored to Pantry’s requirements, with materials provided by the Wichelstowe development.

Clare Jones, the new Team Leader for the Wroughton distribution centre, said: “Our new cupboards are practical and feature plenty of shelving and storage space that will enhance our capacity to help those who rely on our support and they have been built sensitively to fit in with the church environment nicely.”

Wichelstowe Project Director Daniel Pavely said: "The Swindon Food Collective plays a crucial role in supporting our neighbours in times of need. 

"Their team help people across the year, week in and week out, so we felt proud and rather privileged to contribute our skills and materials and do this one simple thing to help."

Cher Smith added: “The donation of materials along with carpenter’s time and skills has helped us enormously.  Our aim is to build on the great work and foundations that the Wroughton Pantry have established. 

"We want to enhance the level of support available by signposting people to other organisations that has specialist advice as well as offer more food which will last longer.  This will make more of an impact to the people that receive help.”

The Swindon Food Collective has seen numbers of people needing their help increase massively, with numbers receiving food rising from 7,600 in the year to April 2022 to 10,791 to April 2023. 

The opening of the new centre increases the number of distribution outlets operating under the Swindon Food Collective to 12, with centres in Lyneham, Royal Wootton Bassett, Highworth, Freshbrook, Penhill, Parks, Moredon, Liden, Stratton St Margaret, Abbey Meads, the town centre and now Wroughton. 

The Swindon Food Collective’s official opening ceremony will take place on Wednesday 6 December 2023, when Councillor Pradeep Bhardwaj, High Sheriff of Wiltshire, and Mr. John Hewer, Chair of the Wroughton Parish Council, will launch the new service and meet the food bank’s volunteers, trustees and staff. 

The Wichelstowe scheme, one of the largest local authority joint venture agreements in the country and the South West’s boldest new developments, is being built by Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes in partnership with Swindon Borough Council. 

It will deliver 3,000 new homes over the next 20 years, along with new schools and community facilities. The 250-hectare site on the southern edge of Swindon will include extensive open spaces, nature conservation Residents will enjoy 12km of new nature trails, play areas, 200 acres of open space and walks along the Wilts and Berks canal. 

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