A charity providing a vital lifeline to people struggling to put food on the table has received a welcome slice of Tamworth Co-operative Society’s Community Dividend Fund.
Tamworth Foodbank has been given nearly £800, quickly using the money to feed more people in crisis. The grant will also meet the cost of a projector to be used in a future project.
The cash was raised by kind-hearted shoppers at the Society’s Bolehall convenience store donating the dividends they earn on their purchases to the charity. Tamworth Co-op’s board of directors decided to allocate payments from the fund earlier than usual because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on worthwhile community initiatives.
Emma Coates, project manager of Tamworth Foodbank, said she was extremely grateful to receive the donation.
“I would like to thank everyone who gives us support, no matter how big or small. We’ve always said that this is a project by the people of Tamworth for the people of Tamworth. In that sense it’s similar in spirit to the Tamworth Co-op Community Dividend Fund.”
Since it opened its doors at Manna House, Glascote in 2011, the food bank has handed out more than 75 tonnes of supplies. That is the equivalent of 17 people being fed every single day of the week for nearly five years.
Mrs Coates added: “At the time many people questioned if there was a need for a food bank in Tamworth. Over the years we have proved that there is very much a need.
“People now have a safe place to go, where they not only receive much needed food, but also a kind ear to listen and help, via signposting, for any additional assistance they may need.
“We are currently feeding an average of 20 families of varying sizes every day, from single people to families of eight to ten people!”
Hayley Gilbert, manager of Tamworth Co-op’s Bolehall food store, said it was very rewarding to see the money go to such an essential cause.
“It’s hard to believe that, in this day and age, people in the Tamworth area are struggling to pay for such a basic need as food. That’s why the work of the food bank is so important. Every year each of our 13 branches supports its own community cause, and everyone at the Bolehall store was delighted to help this particular organisation.”
Due to Covid restrictions, the number of volunteers helping out at the food bank has been limited to just 20. They operate on a rota basis. There is also a small and dedicated warehouse team and 15 drivers who have been delivering food to vulnerable people shielding or self-isolating.
Between March and October 2020, 2,452 three-day emergency food packs were distributed to people in crisis, helping to feed 1,605 adults and 847 children.
Tamworth Foodbank was founded by local churches and community groups working together to eradicate hunger in the local area.
Mrs Coates said individuals can find themselves in a position where they cannot afford to eat for a variety of reasons.
“Before the pandemic people were mainly referred due to benefit delays, debt, homelessness, difficulties budgeting and domestic abuse. We are still seeing that, but there are now people on furlough receiving only 80 per cent of their income whilst still having the same bills to pay.
“The recently unemployed can wait up to five weeks or more for any Universal Credit benefit. The number of alcoholics and drug users are up, and there is a general sense that family budgets are just not stretching enough each month.”
The charity relies heavily on food donations at various supermarket collection points but is constantly in need of support from businesses and others to help it keep the building open.
Updates on the type of food required are posted on Tamworth Foodbank’s Facebook page. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org