ACCORDING to the Oxfam website, “over 2 million people in the UK are estimated to be malnourished, and 3 million are at risk of becoming so”. It’s sad that there is even a need for foodbanks in England, but with food poverty increasing at this rate, there is a growing need to respond. So at the Sheffield Jesus Centre, we are glad to be able to offer tinned and fresh food and toiletries to our visitors and their families.
We operate as partners to the S6 Trussell Trust Foodbank based at the St Thomas Philadelphia campus on Cross Gilpin Street. We connect with other foodbanks operating around the city through the “Sheffield Foodbank Network”, sharing our experiences and food. We have a Citizens Advice worker join us to discuss and find solutions to the issues that bring people to us. Through a partnership with nPower, we can also support those suffering from fuel poverty, providing a voucher for money on their gas or electric meter.
We have had some financial support this year from the Albert Hunt Trust and the JG Graves Charitable Trust to pay some admin wages, and we have had support from Hillards Charitable Trust, the James Neill Trust Fund and Sheffield Town Trust. They’ve provided funding for footwear and clothing for our “Lounge” drop-in clothing stores. These are available to our Lounge and our foodbank clients, and it is greatly appreciated.
People can come to us via a referral from an outside agency, such as Assist, Places for People, the local GP, Addaction, Unity Gym, Hanover Tara etc. Or they can get a referral through our Citizens Advice worker, who helps many clients with their benefits and asylum case difficulties.
It is a joy to see our visitors smile. They talk through a shopping list with a volunteer to express their preferences and place their order for tinned foods, sugar, tea, coffee, cereals, rice, pasta, toiletries etc., which is then picked for them by another volunteer. They can also take fresh bread, fruit, eggs or veg at the end of its shelf life, which is supplied by a local branch of Tesco working in partnership with Fareshare. And, as mentioned above, they may also get some items of clothing and footwear.
So – lots of people working together to provide a safety net for those in food poverty.
And you can help too – food, toiletries etc. may be brought to us here at Sheffield Jesus Centre, taken to the Philadelphia campus, taken to collection points at other local churches like St Andrew’s and St Mark’s, or added to your supermarket shop (e.g. Tesco on Infirmary Road) when volunteers are out inviting the public to contribute. Or you could offer your services as a volunteer. Contact us and see how you can respond to the food poverty crisis in the UK today.