In his report, Steve Drew reflected that in his first two years as chairman he has seen a gradual movement from providing emergency help to individuals and families in immediate need, towards helping people over a longer period.
Clients return on several occasions, quite often referred from Citizen’s Advice or the Money and Debt Advice Service. It would seem that with the introduction of Universal Credit and delays or sometimes reductions in benefits, there has been a need to give help in the longer term rather than just temporary respite.
He indicated that one of the major aims of the Corsham Food Bank is to ensure that children don’t go hungry during school holidays, so families are provided with some much needed extra food for the 13 weeks that they won’t get a meal at school. Last July 189 bags of food were packed, at Christmas the number was 249 bags and just before Easter a further 150 bags were delivered to local families. In December, 50 children from St Patrick’s Primary School came to help us to pack some special food parcels. The older children in year 5 were paired up with younger ones from the Reception class and together they worked hard and gained an insight into how a food bank works. Steve visited Neston Rainbows and Brownies in January so that they could help to sort and mark up some of the food that had been donated at their carol services.
Financially, the food bank is in a strong position thanks to a generous contribution from the Co-op community fund, plus a great many other individual cash donations and the massive amounts of food donated through the churches or given at the collection point in Sainsburys. Because of all this financial and practical support, 800 individuals were helped with food parcels last year, three extra items were added to the list of food available through the voucher system at the Co-op and the overall amount to be spent on fresh fruit or vegetables at Mays Greengrocers was also increased.
This year a dedicated website was developed for us by Steve Nester, the husband of one of our volunteers and Hazel Hammett dragged us into the 21st century by ordering the extra food we needed for the Christmas and Easter hampers online and having it delivered to the church.
He thanked Steve Lumb for his hard work on our behalf as our treasurer and all the volunteers, trustees and committee members who have helped to tackle the problem of food poverty in Corsham since the food bank was set up. He finished with a quotation from John Wesley which summed up the ethos of the Corsham Churches food bank, “Do all the good you can by all the means you can. In all the ways you can, in all the places you can. At all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”