Charity praises Tamworth Co-op for its continuing support at launch of new community pantry

Tamworth Co-op’s chief executive officer designate Dan Welsh was among the VIP guests at the official unveiling of two new shops providing a lifeline to local families on low incomes.

Mr Welsh attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of the Heart of Tamworth charity project at the Sacred Heart Community Centre in Glascote.

Tamworth Co-op donated £1,000 to help stock a community pantry where people can buy heavily discounted food, with a shop next door offering affordable, pre-loved clothes.

Tamworth Co-op’s chief executive officer designate Dan Welsh with the Mayor and Mayoress of Tamworth outside the Glascote community pantry

Tamworth Co-op’s chief executive officer designate, Dan Welsh (left) is pictured outside the new community pantry with Catherine Smith, chair of Heart of Tamworth trustees, Mayor of Tamworth, Councillor John Harper, and Mayoress Maureen Harper.

Speaking at the launch, Catherine Smith, chair of the Heart of Tamworth trustees, thanked the Society and other partners for their contributions, including Lambe Construction which carried out the groundworks free of charge and donated a van.

Referring to Tamworth Co-op’s assistance, she said: “Last May the Society donated a huge amount of food for our holiday food parcels which are distributed by primary schools across the town. Further funding is to come this year which will support more food parcels for schools and our older persons’ lunch club.”

The event was attended by the Archbishop of Birmingham, His Grace Bernard Longley, who blessed the buildings with holy water. Among the other dignitaries present were Staffordshire Deputy Lieutenant Barbara Hyde, Tamworth MP Sarah Edwards and the Mayor and Mayoress of Tamworth, Councillor John Harper and his wife Maureen.

Mr Welsh praised the initiative, saying: “The Heart of Tamworth is a fantastic organisation  doing incredible work in our community. The cost-of-living crisis has stretched budgets to the limit. Thanks to the tireless efforts of this amazing charity, many local families struggling to put food on the table are receiving vital support.”

He added: “Tamworth Co-op has been a huge supporter of the charity, and we’re delighted to be significantly increasing that financial assistance this year.

“The money we donated for the food in the new community pantry was raised through our Cash in the Bag scheme which is funded by the sale of carrier bags in our stores. We are in the process of distributing a total of £12,500 to a string of good causes in the areas we serve.”

The community pantry replaces a much smaller shop which was housed in a shed at the community centre in Silver Link Road. It was opened during the pandemic three years ago and has been used since by around 150 shoppers a week as the need has grown.

For just £5, customers are able to fill their own bags with a range of fresh, chilled, frozen, tinned and packet food. It is a massive saving on supermarket prices and they are also welcome to add some free fruit, vegetables and bakery products.

In addition to buying its own stock, HoT receives surplus food donated by supermarkets and other businesses. Volunteers collect the supplies, often after the stores close, to keep the community pantry’s shelves filled.

Mr Welsh, the Society’s senior general manager who currently heads up the food division, is due to take up his new role on July 1, 2024, following the retirement of chief executive Julian Coles.