The Runnymede foodbank helps individuals and families in crisis, through the provision of emergency food supplies.
The Trussell Trust foodbank network works in partnership with local churches and organisations to bring foodbanks to communities across the UK.
We collect food from customers at supermarkets, churches, schools and other local groups or organisations. We see the food as a catalyst for change by providing emergency food immediately to meet a crisis situation with some practical help, whilst care professionals look at longer-term strategies. In addition to providing this emergency food we also aim to signpost those in need of more help to organisations that may be able to provide further support.
1. Free School Meal Project (this will be known as www.food4lunch.org.uk)
During this summer we operated a pilot project for those children who would normally receive free school meals in term time. We were aware that for many children from poorer families, this is their main meal of the day, and for some their only meal of the day. There is no provision for these families for school holiday periods, which can leave many children going hungry, and can create tremendous financial strain on already stretched budgets, especially for the 6-week summer break - sometimes leading to increased debt burdens, and severe stress.
St Judes in Englefield Green and Sayes Court Junior School in Addlestone took part in our pilot project, with around 49 children.
The outline plan was to provide a lunch for each weekday, for each child, on the pilot project. These lunches are not able to be as fresh or nutrionally balanced as their school meal would be, as they are created from our standard non-perishable goods, however they do provide at least one basic meal per weekday for each child. We parcelled up 3 weeks worth of lunches from a set menu card, and delivered to the schools prior to the summer break. We then provided a further 3-week supply, which was to be collected by the parent(s) from one of the 2 foodbank distribution centres during specific opening hours.
The food for this project was gathered in at a specially arranged supermarket collection day, stored in a warehouse unit until needed, and then packaged by volunteers from the foodbank team.
Once we have analysed the results and discussed them with the schools we are looking to gradually introduce the initiative into other schools for each of the main holiday period's, making a huge difference to the lives of many of our local families.
2. Homeless/NFA Referrals
As well as the above, we are launching a further project, "Souped Up", this coming winter period. This will see us providing metal flasks to those who are homeless, in B&B's or hostels, or who are "sofa surfing" and heating soup for them, from our existing supplies, to fill that flask.
Whenever we are open we will be happy to refill the flask with more soup, or even tea/coffee, ensuring that we know this group of often forgotten people have access to a hot drink on a regular basis.
Our other goal with this project is to have a sticker put onto each flask which makes it easily identifiable. We will then begin to create links across the Borough with churches and other centres like the Egham kitchen, the village centre in Englefield Green etc with the aim of organising for them to have a large copy of the sticker in their window. Those centres/churches etc who are prepared to display a sticker would be happy to refill a flask, and make that person welcome.
We are about to start joining the Addlestone Baptist Church (ABC) Saturday lunches, to invite people who are in crisis to come and have lunch with "befriender" type volunteers. This engages with those among us who can often be isolated and disadvantaged, and helps to gain better insight into their circumstances, making it possible for us to signpost more effectively to other services with a view to aiding a faster path through a crisis.
ABC hosts its Saturday lunches 3 times per month, and the idea is the foodbak will invite and refer clients. We aim to have a table of 6 places initially, growing to 2 tables and hopefully even 3!
We would love to extend this to other church lunch projects across the Borough so that clients from all areas can access a hot lunch and some company.
4. Debt Support
There are local Christians across the Borough, from ABC in Addlestone and St Johns in Egham, currently being trained in debt advice and money management skills, and our aim is to also have a number of our volunteers trained in their techniques, to enable the scenario where we are "speaking the same language". To this end 3 of us are booked onto the next ABC CAP course in September, and we hope to start engaging with clients about their debt in a more meaningful way by the end of the year, and making referrals to the CAP courses.
Effectively this will mean that when we see someone with debt issues at the foodbank, and there are many of them from all walks of life, they will be able to have an immediate conversation with a trained volunteer, which gives detailed information, helps alleviate some concerns and informs them of the process they can be helped through and then refers them to a debt advisor that we have built a relationship with.
We believe that beginning to have such joined up processes and referrals will lead to much more effective ways to begin to break down the cycles of poverty that some people find themselves in.
We are not naive, and misguided in our beliefs, as we know from our contact with foodbank clients that many of them simply wish to be listened to and treated with kindness and as individuals, and a number of them have told us that we have saved their lives. We wish to take that a little further and try and begin to join up some of the support that is out there, mainly through our Christian churches, to begin to make a real longterm difference to many of our neighbours.
In order to run the foodbank we need to raise circa £24,000 per annum (I have attached a basic expenditure forecast), and we have taken steps to begin ensuring that we can achieve this on an ongoing basis, by involving many people for small monthly amounts of money. We are about to launch our financial programme, "Feed the Need in Runnymede", which essentially requires that 500 spaces are filled at £4 per month. This would ensure the financial longevity of the foodbank and it's associated projects, and would also mean we could stop having to spend so much time fundraising for large sums each year. However, in order to get to the point where this is achievable we need to be able to spend the time getting the message out and signing people up over the next 18-20 months so we are standing on our own financial feet, by and large, at the end of our 3rd year and going into our 4th.
We would like to ask our local churches to consider supporting us in this way financially, by praying and considering if they feel this is a worthwhile local mission, and how much per annum they may be able to help us with. We already have commitments from some churches, small businesses and individuals and others are asking about signing up. I have attached a standing order mandate if you would be prepared to consider helping via this route. We currently have 29 spaces filled and enquiries that would help us fill a further 68 so we are hoping that other churches will really get us much closer to the overall required goal of 500 spaces being taken up.