The Social Supermarket in Rotherham now has a waiting list

AN OUTREACH project aimed at helping the hard-up to beat poverty and put food on the table has seen demand surge to the point where it now has a waiting list.

The Social Supermarket in Rotherham town centre is already serving 40 members a week and there is a four-week wait to join them.

The supermarket, run from Rotherham Minster, is not a foodbank and does not aim to provide emergency support — instead, members pay a small weekly fee in return for essential food supplies and many are on the books for between three and four months.

They can also access social activities and advice on healthy eating, cooking and debt management.

Christine Batchford, who works at the social supermarket, said: “We have quite a bit of a waiting list at the moment, which we’ve never had before.

“We’ve been getting a lot of people referred in so we have been having to look into ways of getting more supply.

“We are getting in touch with other services to see what they can deliver to us in larger quantities.”

She added: “We don’t provide emergency support but are more about prevention and simply taking the pressure off people in terms of how they are going to feed themselves that week.

“We can help them think about planning more for the long term.

“For some people it is about their finances, but for others it’s about the social contact as well.

“One chap who has been coming for three weeks said he feels so much better already — not just for having somewhere to come but because he’s getting fresh food and wanted to cook it and eat more healthily.”

Christine said rather than frustration at having a waiting list, the organisation’s focus was on making the most of their resources.

“We are a small organisation with limited resources and want to make sure that we can make a difference for the people we have,” she said.

“A lot of people that have come to us have managed to improve their situation as well as their health.

“One man has started his own allotment group and for others, it’s a case of seeing what they can do and how they can make a difference to their lives.”

The Minster recently hosted a community drop-in day (pictured) for networking between community and outreach groups and for the public to pick up advice.

Christine added: “Citizens Advice did some face to face consultation about support with energy bills and people came along to engage with the staff about housing and debt support.”

The Social Supermarket operates every Tuesday and Thursday.

For more details, visit the Social Supermarket - Rotherham Minster Facebook page or enquire at the Minster.