Foodbank searching for its own miracle

ROTHERHAM Foodbank has 16 weeks to find new premises — at a time of unprecedented demand as it attempts to provide wider support than ever.

The charity has been run and hosted by Hope Church on Grove Road since 2013 but both need to be out by mid-May when the building is turned into flats.

Foodbank manager Victoria Morris said: “We are a church organisation and we believe in miracles. We are hoping for one now.”

A new home for the operation needs a reception area, donation packing room, space for clients to chat with support agencies — and somewhere to store the actual food.

Some 9.3 tonnes were donated during November and December, with nine tonnes collected by clients.

Across the whole of 2022, the foodbank supported 4,603 people — including 1,475 children.

The main reasons for referral were low income, issues with benefits and homelessness.

Victoria said: “The council have done all they can but haven’t been able to help us find an appropriate building.

“Ideally, we need to be central because people are carrying away a week’s worth of shopping.

“It has to be where people can drop off, with good public transport nearby. We also need car parking.”

Victoria said the building’s new owners had been flexible in allowing extra months and the council had tried to help them find somewhere on at least an interim basis to prevent the provision closing.

The foodbank receives referrals from dozens of organisations, and can provide support or signposting for a range of “wraparound” help besides food.

A project with Citizens Advice has helped clients gain financially to the tune of £46,147 through helping them access benefits, tax credits and other support.

A new partnership with Christians Against Poverty has seen volunteers train as “befrienders” who help link clients with a free debt advice service.

CAP debt centre manager Lorna Hukin said: “It’s going amazingly, but it’s unfortunate there is such a great need.

“It’s great that we can sit with people on a one-to-one basis.

“We know people can bury their heads in the sand and put bills straight into a drawer.

“We can make a tremendous difference. If the client is willing to engage, then we guarantee we can get them out of debt.”

Victoria said: “We’re a holistic hub of support, helping clients to identify primary indicators and root causes.

“But it’s difficult — three or four families recently have been coming because their rents have gone up by a third, with utilities bills on top of that.

“A lot of these people were managing fine until these things have happened.

“They can find it incredibly embarrassing, and it can lead to mental health issues.

“Last week, we had a man who said he had never taken a penny from the state in his life. It’s upsetting to see older people who just won’t tell you when they are in need.

“I went to see a woman who’s always immaculately dressed when she comes to church but she didn’t have the heating on and all she’d had that day was a Cup-a-Soup.”

If you know of suitable premises which the foodbank might be able to use — even on an interim basis — contact Victoria on 07562 636989.

Related topics: