We are a Christian based charity committed to easing poverty on our doorstep. We started out in September 2013 as a collaboration of 5 Southend churches. We now have seven distribution centres and a warehouse.
We are part of a nationwide network of foodbanks, supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK.
We work with over 80 local referral agencies who do an assessment of the person’s situation and issue them with a voucher for three days’ of emergency food. They then come to one of our distribution centres in the area to redeem them. There is a distribution centre, all run by volunteers, open every day apart from Sunday. Each voucher presented to us means a conversation, an opportunity to listen or to sign-post. It’s an opportunity to pray with someone if they wish and for them to perhaps find a bigger community to be part of. We can’t offer counselling, but our aim is to signpost people to agencies who can help them. Issues that guests present can be as varied as illness, benefit delays or changes, death, debt issues. We aim to provide a non-judgemental place where people can be helped. The majority (42%) of people helped are single people aged 25-64 years or single parents (26%) with children aged 5-11 years old.
We rely on donations by the public to provide our guests with food. People can use our permanent collection points in supermarkets like Tesco, Waitrose and the Co-op and churches around Southend.
In our four years, we’ve had over 137 metric tonnes of food donated from over 150 different donors, including 26 churches and 29 schools. 72% comes in from regular weekly donations, 17% from supermarket collections, 11% from harvest collections. We have given out over 119 metric tonnes of food.
The donations then go to our warehouse, where they are weighed, marked and sorted. They are packed into boxes to go out to the distribution centres. This is all thanks to our committed group of volunteers to give up their time and expertise to help us. There are only two paid members of staff and without the volunteers, we would have to shut our doors.