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/ 20 March 2013

Foodbanks make life more bearable

Serving on the Foodbank brought a new level of togetherness within the church.

The UK is moving into a new phase of a "triple dip recession" with the cost of living continuing to inch up and the proposals for benefit reform and cuts, those living on the edges of poverty and disadvantage will suffer far more. With this in the forefront of their thinking, churches and other agencies from across Harrow have been working together to establish the Harrow Foodbank. This will open in June 2013. Marlon outlines what’s taking place in Harrow and his own experience of working on a Foodbank.

Following a period of prayer and deep exploration we all braved the mid January snow and conditions to gather at All Saints Harrow Weald to discuss the notion of this project. We heard from the Christine, the Trussell Trust Development Officer and other colleagues all sharing and offering constructive and creative ideas for resolution.

Since then there has been unstinting work behind the scenes, a steering group is now in place, they have developed draft governing and operating documents and planned a series of promotional events, including an open evening on 21 March, a fundraiser in April and an abseiling and cake event in June.

For the latest news on this project and how to support this read here.

I volunteered on the Hillingdon Foodbank during 2012 at St Anselm Hayes and found it to be a really moving experience. Watching and listening to people living in conditions of total despair was unnerving and I’m not sure all of the volunteers were ready for some of the stories that they would listen to.

The people referred could generally be split into three emotional categories, fear of condemnation, anxious and those who were angry, verging on hostile.

It was safe to say that all were racked with embarrassment and shame. However it was amazing to see the power that a little small talk, active listening and a cup of tea or coffee could have in all of those situations.

We watched as people left the church with their faith in humanity restored, with some degree of pride returned and an element of the immediate worry "how do I feed myself/the children, this next week" lifted. On several occasions volunteers were invited to dinner as they had helped to lift the weight, as a token of appreciation.

Serving on the Foodbank brought a new level of togetherness from members within the church as members worked together and refreshed their faith journey as they were reminded of the basic ‘love thy neighbour’ tenet and of Matthew 25. The work also helped to engender a new community spirit and ecumenical collaboration.

Using the Trussell Trust model, Foodbank aims to provide a short-term crisis intervention providing enough food for roughly a week. Statistics tell us that there are around 13 million people living below the poverty line and that every day people have to take the decision of whether to eat or ensure that the utilities remain connected.

By being part of the distribution of food churches across Willesden and other parts of the Diocese are helping to make people lives more bearable and are also rebuilding trust in the establishment that is the church. Ok so we’re not exactly converting water into wine, but in our own way we have helped to feed, maintain and rebuild the lives of 129,000 people across the UK.

There are also current discussions taking place for the development of an Ealing Foodbank. It would be really good to hear from some of the longer standing/more established Foodbanks from across the Diocese. To share your experiences and learning please send your information to marlon.nelson@nulllondon.anglican.org.


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