Foodbank and soup kitchen appeals for donations to help Mansfield's most vulnerable

A foodbank and soup kitchen in Mansfield is appealing for donations to help some of the town's most vulnerable people.

Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 3:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 4:40 pm
Volunteer Mary Doubtfire cooking lunches

As the nights draw in and temperatures plummet, kind-hearted volunteers give up their time to keep the most vulnerable people in the town fed and clothed.

St Peter's foodbank in the Stanhope Centre, Rock Valley, opens for clients to have a hot meal, take home a food parcel, have some warm clothes and chat about their issues.

The foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust, and is a satellite of The Sherwood Forest Foodbank.

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Ann Jenkins helping a client

Your Chad reporter visited the centre on a Wednesday afternoon, when people come to shelter from the cold with a hot meal, and receive support.

Foodbank users are referred to the service by organisation such as the CAB, Job Centre Plus, SureStart, health practitioner or welfare agency.

However, Anne Jenkins, volunteer coordinator, says no-one leaves the centre hungry, and they will not turn anyone in need away.

She said: "We're always busy, and people seem to be more desperate at Christmas.

Volunteer Nimllh Acandeh putting out clothes for clients to choose from

"Universal Credit is a big problem, we see single men waiting weeks for their money, then they have to borrow money and get in debt so there's nothing left when they are paid."

The service doesn't stop at meeting people's physical needs.

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"I've volunteered here for four years, and i'm still shocked by what I see sometimes.

"This past summer we've had homeless people in who were destitute. They only had the t shirt and shorts they were standing in, and they looked like something out of a war zone.

"That is not a reflection of who they are, just the situation they have found themselves in, and charities have to pick up the pieces.

"People are frightened of the homeless but there's nothing to be scared of."

Anne and the 20 volunteers at the Stanhope Centre see people who have taken the former legal high Spice

She added: "They seem to have just been moved on and the problem hasn't been solved."

There is a calm and peaceful atmosphere in the centre, where volunteers are serving hot food and drinks, and processing vouchers for emergency food supplies.

People of all ages are sat at the tables, laughing and joking despite the circumstances.

She said: "You get to know people and their situations.

"You're with them through the highs and lows.

"We see mostly rough sleepers, and many come to have some company, loneliness is a big issue."

The Foodbank relies on donations, and many supermarkets and food outlets in the town donate their surplus food.

Donations are also needed for clothing, sleeping bags, tents and bedding, which are given to rough sleepers.

One client started coming to the centre in February, and has now turned her life around.

She is working toward her CSCS card to work in the construction industry, and also volunteers at the centre.

She said: "I was in a mess, I had nowhere to live.

"Volunteers here made me feel better, they try and help you out with anything.

"There should be more places like this, they made me realise that things do get better.

"I'm now in housing, working toward my CSCS card, and I've got my money sorted."

The centre needs donations of:

Men's jeans or trousers, waist sizes 28, 30 and 36.

Men's jumpers and jackets

Socks

Hats

Gloves

Sleeping bags

Toiletries

The centre is open on Wednesday afternoons between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

If you are in need of help, or want to donate, you can pop in for a chat between these times, or contact the sites Facebook page