A new food bank has opened at St George the Martyr church in Queen Square, Holborn. Run by (and welcoming new!) volunteers, it is part of the Trussell Trust network of food banks providing emergency food to people facing a crisis.
What is a food bank?
You might have noticed recent items in the news about the big rise in numbers of people turning to food banks. This can be because of delays in benefits, unemployment or illness, or low wages combining with high rents to make it hard for working people to get by.Â Rising fuel and food prices mean many people are struggling to cover the cost of living.
A food bank provides 3 days’ nutritionally balanced food donated by the public. The food consists of non-perishable items such as pasta or rice and sauces, tinned fruit and vegetables, longlife milk and cereals.
The food bank at St George the Martyr Church is open on Saturdays, when volunteers offer tea, coffee and biscuits to people while their food is sorted and packed. Children are welcome and people can sit and chat while they wait.
To access the food bank, customers must be referred by a professional such as a doctor, health visitor, or Citizen’s Advice advisor.
How can we apply for food from the food bank?
The local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, based in Holborn Library, can refer people to the food bank if they are facing a crisis and unable to afford food.
For families with small children, if you are already attending the health centre at Hunter Street, the health visitors can issue a voucher for the food bank in an emergency.
The food bank can only help people who have a voucher referral, as supplies are limited, so please ask about food bank vouchers from Citizen’s Advice if you are facing a crisis.
If you are finding it difficult to afford this week’s food, you are not alone: in the UK one in five mothers regularly goes without meals in order to afford food for her children and one in five of us has skipped meals this year due to food poverty.
Here in Bloomsbury the cost of living can be very high and Camden has the second highest rate of child poverty in London.
Trussell Trust figures show that the majority of people turning to food banks are working age families. Many are in work but their wages do not cover rising fuel, food, travel and housing costs.
Visit the Trussell Trust website to find out more: http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats
How can we help?
St George’s church needs volunteers wanting to help with food collections and distribution. The food bank is open on Saturdays from 11-1, and volunteers are wanted to welcome customers and to help sort and pack food. There is a friendly, family atmosphere so people can sit and chat, rest and have tea and children can play while the food is sorted.
Please email the food bank at firstname.lastname@example.org.Â if you are interested in volunteering.
If you would like to donate food, please bring items from the shopping list on the St George’s website: http://www.stgholborn.org/Groups/203260/St_Georges_Holborn/Community/Foodbank/Foodbank.aspx
The church can take donations on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10a.m. And 2p.m..
Offer help with advice or voucher distribution.
As well as providing food, the food bank aims to help people access any services they need such as benefits, debt or housing advice. Volunteers can liaise with local services to help people get the support they need.
If you work for a local service that might be able to help people access the food bank, such as a GP surgery, school, community organisation or housing services, please contact the church at email@example.com. and ask for further information.