In Autumn 2011, a group at Fleet Methodist Church formed Hart Foodbank, number 100 of the Trussell Trust foodbanks. On Sunday last, at the same venue, we held an afternoon tea and service to celebrate 5 years of the foodbank.
During those years, we’ve fed around 5,000 people, built up 90 volunteers, we’ve had thousands of clients referred to us by our dozens of referral agencies and we’ve received over 80,000kgs of food from our generous donors. A lot to be thankful for, but our existence is bittersweet. Christine Siddall, project manager since 2014 says:
“We treat each visitor as an individual, listen to their plight, respect them and signpost them to more permanent help. People are living on the edge and it takes courage to walk into a foodbank to ask for help. I would love to live in a world where foodbanks aren’t necessary. I’m old enough and wise enough to see that won’t be the case any time soon.”
We had about half of our volunteers present to enjoy tea, cakes and share their experiences with donors and referral agencies. This event was also a “thank you” for the hard efforts of our volunteers who work individually and as a great team. During the service we heard how one volunteer, Judy, had initially thought that volunteering for the foodbank would be a “soft option”. She then witnessed how:
“A visitor to Hart Foodbank may be someone you might know and coping with debt, unemployment or ill health. These people were between a rock and a hard place and rarely playing the system.”
Another volunteer, Jane, told us about a client:
“This carer had inexplicably had their benefits stopped, after a while buying food they ran out of funds. When they came to the foodbank they explained they hadn’t been able to wash their clothes for weeks. They were so happy to receive the food parcel and washing powder!”