It was very interesting to have Graham Bough, Trustee of Canterbury Food Bank CIO talk to us the other day. Knowing the need for the Food bank and the help it provides to the local community, our Club has been a longstanding supporter of the Food Bank.
Here Graham, who we're pleased to say is also one of our Members, gives a synopsis of his presentation:
Canterbury Food Bank is a registered charity established in 2013 to provide food support to those individuals and family groups who are resident in the Canterbury City Council district and who are experiencing short term financial crisis. This includes the residents of Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and the surrounding villages.
In 2013 the charity consisted of 12 people operating out of a shipping container sited on the Wincheap Industrial Estate in Canterbury, collecting food from churches and serving people referred by local churches. Since then the organisation has grown to consist of 7 trustees, a management team of 7 people including three part time paid staff and over 100 volunteers who assist the work of the charity, some on a weekly basis.
There are now four food parcel distribution ‘cafes’ set up on specific days each week in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay and the charity rents warehouse premises in which food donations are sorted, stored and packed into food parcels for later distribution.
The charity has established a close working relationship with the Citizens Advice Bureau and their representatives attend at three of the food distribution ‘cafes’ to work with the charity in signposting clients to agencies that work with the client to help with issues that are the cause of the financial crisis. The charity has sourced funds with which to pay the Citizens Advice Bureau in order that their staff can be present to work with clients.
During the 12 months to 31 July 2018 the charity worked with 76 agencies and support groups who refer clients to the charity for food support. In this 12-month period, the charity provided 3,391 food parcels to individuals and family groups experiencing short term financial crisis. This is a 4% increase in the number of parcels distributed over the number distributed in the previous year. The food parcels contained food items to the value of approximately £82,600.
Of the food parcels issued, 42% were issued to people who have suffered from benefit reduction or who have been sanctioned, 25% issued to people experiencing debt issues and 17% to people experiencing a family crisis.
The food parcels are packed to contain certain core items that have been specified by a dietician as contributing to a healthy diet when used by the clients. There are many food donation points through out the city council district including at many supermarkets, churches and businesses. During the year to 31 July 2018, 93,055 items on the standard packing list were donated including valued food items purchased for the charity by the Rotary Club of Canterbury.
The charity also holds other important items such as feminine hygiene products, babies nappies, baby foods and basic toiletries which are available to clients referred to the charity.
The charity is currently supported financially by a few generous organisations including Canterbury City Council, SERCO, the Riverside Church in Whitstable but some of these funding streams are due to end in the next year. Individuals also make monthly contributions to the charity funds to meet salaries and operating costs but costs currently exceed donations and the charity’s reserves are currently being absorbed to meet these costs. Additional funding is currently being sought to secure the future of the charity.
The operational challenges currently faced by the charity include:
- The full Universal Credit roll-out in the district is scheduled for 2019 after which it is anticipated that there will be a 13% increase in the need for food support;
- How to contact family’s resident in the district who are experiencing financial crisis but who are not yet in receipt of food support;
- Despite receiving some donated strong bags, the charity needs to find a supply of strong bags in which to distribute the food parcels without having to purchase them;
- How to finance the charity’s operations in future.
The charity has a strong social media presence and information can be found on the web site at www.canterburyfoodbank.org on Facebook at FoodBankCanterbury and on Twitter at FoodBankCbury
Picture: Canterbury Food Bank. Picture credit: Graham Bough.