Over 3,000 people have been helped by the Bestwood and Bulwell Food Bank since its inception 18 months ago.
The high levels of deprivation across the Bulwell region, the recession and recent benefit reform by the Government have all had a huge impact on pockets of the community who are struggling to make ends meet.
And it’s not just those out of work who are financially tight, low paid workers, pensioners and people who suddenly face redundancy have all received support from the food bank wnich was set up by many churches across the district working together.
“There are many situations that people find themselves in where they can no longer afford to buy food to feed their families,” explained food bank manager, Nigel Webster. “It could be a woman and her children forced to escpape the family home through domestic abuse, another who may have a delay in benfits or pension or someone who has got into bad debt and the bailiffs are chasing them for money.
“Whatever the reason or circumstances we are here to offer crisis relief.”
The food bank is an efficient and effective system that is organised well with strict controls and filing systems for referrals.
People are referred for help through professional agencies who are aware of what the food bank can offer.
These could be the police, teachers, healthcare professionals, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
“Each client has to be assessed by one of our partner agencies to get a referral to collect food up to a maximum three times,” added Nigel. “It is their decision based on the information they are told and understand that leads them to us and enables the food bank to help them.
“We are not here to judge people and treat each individual with respect and kindness but it is about the community helping each other.”
As well as giving emergency food help, the volunteers signpost clients to agencies where they can receive support and advice depending on their circumstances.
“We had a man who came to us having lost his job after his employer discovered he was illiterate,” added Nigel. “We put him in touch with an adult education course, which he wasn’t aware of, and has since returned after learning to read and write and offered his help as a volunteer.”
The Bestwood and Bulwell Food Bank is based at St Phillip’s Community Church at Top Valley where a team of over 50 volunteers from across the region and beyond work to sort out donations and package up parcels.
It is open for referred collections and donations Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-3pm and on Saturday from 10-12.
“The majority of our donations come from churches, school harvest festival collections and supermarket collections,” said volunteer co-ordinator, Diana Copestake, who has been helping since the beginning. “It is simply local people feeding local people.
“We meet a lot of people across all social classes and backgrounds who can quickly find their circumstances change. It is quite humbling.
“Most people do not want to be here and can get very emotional.
“Volunteering here can be quite an eye-opener and you soon realise that we are dealing with people not mere statistics.”
If you would like to donate food to the Bestwood and Bulwell Food Bank or volunteer call 0115 9751825 or visit: www.bestwoodbulwell.foodbank.org.uk.
3,000 people helped since it was set up 18 months ago
40 per cent are children
Each food parcel provides 10 meals for three days
3/4 of all food donations come from churches across the region
Three tonne of food was collected at Top Valley and Bulwell Tesco stores over Christmas 2013
There are over 50 volunteers helping to run the food bank
The next food collections at Top Valley and Bulwell Tesco stores will take place on 3rd/4th/5th July
More than half the people in receipt of food parcels are placed in poverty through benefit problems
Only dry and tinned food can be accepted for full shopping list see food bank website