Celebrating the work of our Foodbanks

February 02 2017
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Back in August 2012, North Bristol Foodbank was established

Back in August 2012, North Bristol Foodbank was established when people from Ebenezer Church (on Filton Avenue in Horfield) and Filton Community Church (who run Revive Charity Shop on Filton) continued to see a huge need in the local community with people they were working with long term. People were struggling to feed themselves and their families when a crisis came along. This could be an unexpected bill, benefits sanction, funeral costs, sudden loss of employment or numerous other reasons.

North Bristol Foodbank provides emergency food and support to people in crisis in Lockleaze, Horfield, Southmead and into South Gloucestershire. We receive clients referred by frontline professionals such as social workers, health visitors, tenant support officers from housing associations, family support teams in schools, and many others. Once referred, the person in need comes along to one of our four outlets (including St James Church, Lockleaze and Ebenezer Church, Horfield) to receive bags of food providing nutritionally balanced food for three meals a day for a three day period. We also signpost people on to other useful local services. This includes support giving locally by close partnerships like North Bristol Advice Centre and the many services they provide.

As you may have seen in national media, there is still a noticeable demand for Foodbank use in the UK for people in need receiving emergency food parcels. Our local Foodbank (which is one of 3 Trussell Trust foodbanks in Bristol + other independent foodbanks) is still seeing a high demand as we have given three day food supplies out 2,397 times from April 2016 – November 2016, compared with 2,189 times during the previous year.

Stewart North (founder and chairman of North Bristol Foodbank) – “It is all too easy when you look at figures to forget the real people behind the statistics. Very often, our volunteers listen to stories from those referred to the foodbank that are heart-breaking to hear and have provide emotional support and encouragement, during really tough times. That’s why the foodbank is so vital. We are very grateful for the ongoing support of the community, and hope that one day there will be no need for us in Bristol. But until that day comes, we will continue to offer the best possible service to help local people facing a crisis.”

Recently North Bristol Foodbank were able to hold a three day supermarket collection at Tesco Lime Trees Rd in Horfield (see attached picture) where 1,895kg of food was donated by generous customers. It was great to have local corporate volunteer teams (from TSB Bank) and volunteers from the community to help make this happen. Many of these donations were used to make up 160 Christmas hampers for people nominated by the Foodbank’s voucher referral agencies who because of difficult circumstances would not otherwise have been able to afford any nice treats at Christmas time.

Jon Dobson (Foodbank manager) says– “It has been amazing to see the generous response from the local community wanting to help those who have been struggling at Christmas time. From people donating food through our supermarket collections, or through their schools and businesses; to teams from Merlin Housing Society and Co-op helping pack our hampers, it has been great to see the community come together to help those on the margins. We have already been hearing about the impact our Christmas hampers are having (see attached picture) so we are sincerely grateful to all those that have supported us throughout the year.”

In 2017 the North Bristol Foodbank will be exploring further ways in which people at risk of food poverty can be supported, through cooking and budgeting courses and additional help around saving money on energy bills. The Foodbank is looking to provide ‘More than food’ in their approach to tackling food poverty in North Bristol.