Local housebuilding firms help struggling families with food bank donation

By Jessica Durston - 10 May 2023

  • (L-R) Julianna Sullivan, Sales Adviser, Daniel Pavely, Project Director – Wichelstowe, Brenda Maddox, volunteer, and Rosemarie Watson, founder of the Wroughton Community Pantry

    (L-R) Julianna Sullivan, Sales Adviser, Daniel Pavely, Project Director – Wichelstowe, Brenda Maddox, volunteer, and Rosemarie Watson, founder of the Wroughton Community Pantry

The team behind a new housing development in Wichelstowe is helping to provide meals to struggling families across Swindon with a £500 donation to the Wroughton Community Pantry food bank.

The Wroughton Community Pantry food bank was set up by a local resident more than two years ago to help those in need.

Rosemarie Watson (aged 75) launched an emergency response food delivery service for hard-up families after the government announced the end of free school meals during the 2020 summer holidays.

With the help of her neighbour, Hannah Smith, she began to store food donations from the public in her garage before she assembled and hand delivered food boxes to families across the village.

Since then, the demand for food parcels has increased and Rosemarie and other locals wanted to do all they could to help out. With the support of the team at Elledune Community Centre, the Pantry was offered rent-free, long-term use of a room for the food bank set-up.

Today, the Pantry provides food parcels to families in Chiseldon, Thorney Park, Wichelstowe and Wroughton, delivered to their doorstep by a small team of volunteers. Over the last couple of months alone, the food bank has supported 26 families - some on a regular basis, others as and when they have needed help.

The food packages are said to be nutritionally balanced and are made up using donated items such as long life foods, canned items, convenience foods, eggs and dairy.

Rosemarie said the support the Pantry has received from the Wichelstowe Joint Venture team has been huge.

She added: “We provide emergency, non-referred food parcels to families who are in need immediately – they don’t have time to go through the referral process via a larger organisation so for many, we’re a lifeline.

“The Pantry exists on donations. Every week the Berkeley Farm Dairy gives us milk, butter and yogurts, we receive donations from schools’ Harvest Festivals, the local Youth Football group collect tins for us and during the summer months we get food from local allotments. At the start of the year, members of the community dropped food on my doorstep and we received private donations however, these are much smaller now for obvious reasons. 

“The last few months have been hard because of rising energy bills. Young families and single people are struggling to manage on the benefits they receive. We regularly donate to a family with four small children but we’re frequently receiving new requests for support from people who have just heard about us. This £500 donation will go a long way to help those who need it most.”

Daniel Pavely, Project Director – Wichelstowe, said: “Wroughton Community Pantry has benefited from an overwhelming amount of food from the public and support seems to be ever growing.  Community is at the heart of what we do and we’re pleased to be in a position to provide funding to help families in and around Swindon who are currently finding things tough.”

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 areas, playing pitches and allotments.

As part of this neighbourhood, residents will also be able to enjoy 12km of new nature trails, play areas, 200 acres of open space and walks along the Wilts and Berks canal.

The housebuilding team say there are also a range of schools for children of all ages within easy reach. Junction 16 of the M4 and Swindon train station are both within a ten-minute drive, providing easy access to Bristol and London.

For further information on the Wichelstowe development, individuals can visit https://www.dwh.co.uk/new-homes/dev-001051-orchards-rise/ or https://www.barratthomes.co.uk/new-homes/dev000220-wichel-fields-@-wichelstowe/

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