Our MBC Foodbank Hub first opened its doors back in March 2018. From the very beginning Angela Cox has been involved and we asked her to reflect on the Foodbank journey so far…
I first got involved with the Foodbank about 10 years ago when they invited people to come and look around the main Foodbank at Elim Church. Several of us went to hear about it and a couple of us began to put out information at MBC and request donations. For a number of years my only input was in ferrying these donations to the main Foodbank. Then things stepped up several gears when Darren approached me because he was keen to start up a satellite outlet here at the church. So two years ago now our MBC Foodbank opened and a rota was set up to work with clients on Wednesday evenings.
Each week we have to go and fetch “parcels” so that we are well stocked up by Wednesday evening. Generally there are three people on duty each week and although numbers of clients do fluctuate on average we see six or seven people each week. Occasionally we may have a zero week and once we ran out of food when more than 12 people all came on one evening!
Clients usually arrive with a voucher which they have been given by another agency such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Wimbledon Guild, a school or social services. We always sit and chat with people and offer tea and biscuits to help them relax. Some know the system but others are overwhelmed by the mere fact that they are at a Foodbank. Sometimes they want to be quickly on their way and sometimes they want to stay and chat for two hours. “Parcels” consist of several bags of non-perishable food which is meant to last for 3 or 4 days as an emergency measure. Different size parcels are available for single people, small families or even larger families. Besides food we have extra items such as toiletries and soap powder/nappies/toilet rolls, etc.
There is no such thing as a typical person who uses a Foodbank. Probably the majority we see are single men who are out of work. We have young and old, single parents and elderly couples.
We had a very interesting conversation one evening with a Muslim girl having partner problems. What she wanted most was for us to pray with her that she could settle down and start a family. A teacher on a zero-hours contract has been several times when she is particularly hard up and often has landlord problems.
It’s sad how many people live life on the edge of imminent disaster and yet are just about functioning and even keeping a family together. Many are extremely grateful for the food and love we can give them and welcome prayers or advice.
Anyone who is interested in joining our fantastic group of helpers needs to be able to commit to about one Wednesday a month and enjoy working with a wide variety of people. Training is given and you are always part of a team.