Willesden church partners with Brent foodbank
St Mary’s Church in Willesden has partnered with Brent foodbank to help cater for rising demand for its services.
St Mary’s will open its doors to foodbank users, offering a warm place to wait during busy periods. The Vicar of St Mary’s, Fr Christopher Phillips, and other church members will also provide tea, coffee and a listening ear to those waiting.
The foodbank feeds over 1,900 local people each year, and has operated from the Vestry Hall opposite St Mary’s since 2013. However, increasing use by local residents has prompted the foodbank’s organisers, the Trussell Trust, to seek additional space and community support.
The extra room and support from St Mary’s will free up time and storage space in the foodbank itself, helping to accommodate more users. For the residents, it will provide an opportunity to spend time with parishioners and other members of the local community in a calm environment, as well as learning more about the community events and support work run by St Mary’s.
Samantha Stapley, Chief Operations Officer at the Trussell Trust said:
“St Mary’s Church does fantastic work and we’re really pleased Brent Foodbank could partner with them to help support local people. We are so much stronger when we work together and are far more able to reach more people in crisis and provide crucial help. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our volunteers and donors. We’re continually blown away by people’s support to provide emergency help, and ultimately work towards a future without hunger and poverty. This kind of generosity shows that as a nation we believe in justice, compassion to change society for the better.”
Fr Christopher Phillips, Vicar at St Mary’s, said:
“Whilst it is saddening that services like these are necessary, I’m proud that St Mary’s is able to support Brent foodbank’s vital work in this new way. As demand continues to rise in our area and across the whole of London, support from churches and community groups is crucial. We all know the importance of generous foodstuff and financial donations, but foodbanks can only function if they have enough space and volunteers.
“If every cloud has a silver lining, one thing I’m appreciative for is the opportunity to meet, learn from, and build relationships with new people from across the parish. Many of the local residents I’ve spoken to at the foodbank have said they’ve never been to Church before, but were interested in learning more about the work we do in the community.”
Last year the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest foodbank operator, distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 19% increase on the previous year. Over 10% of food parcels were handed out in London. Churches across the Diocese of London are supporting the community response to the growing demand through hosting, supporting and donating to foodbanks across the capital.