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Giving out food in times of hardship
11:00am Monday 23rd September 2013 in News
IT IS a long day for the man behind the organisation of Swindon’s Foodbank but he said the rewards of supporting people in crisis make it all worth it.
Project manager Dave Hartridge started in his role two weeks ago. Since then he has been meeting with donors, arranging volunteers, hosting school assembles and handing out food to clients.
Once groceries are donated to the Foodbank’s warehouse in Westlea, a team of volunteers has to weigh it, sort hand-outs into a range of categories and then bag them up.
Dave’s job is to make sure everyone knows what they are doing and is carrying out the masterplan correctly.
He is also the man who has to make sure each venue has enough vouchers.
“We don’t feed people that come off the street or who are homeless, those groups have enough agencies,” said Dave.
“We target people who have fallen into a gap and, for whatever reason, have no other agencies that can support them.
“We have around 60 agencies, which include GPs, schools and churches, who refer people to us.”
Each person, once they have been vetted, is given a voucher for them to collect their food.
“This is not an indefinite arrangement,” said Dave. “We normally support people for around three weeks – in exceptional cases we may support them a bit longer. But normally by that time other agencies have got involved.”
He said changes to the welfare system have had a big impact on people living in Swindon.
“People not getting their benefits on time, delayed benefits or cuts to the benefits have been some of the main reasons for people coming to us recently,” said Dave. “But it could happen to anyone – no one knows what the future will hold.
“People have no reason to feel ashamed to come to us, we don’t just provide food but also put people in touch with the right organisations to help, have a chat over a biscuit and a cup of tea and give them a little time to provide them with support.”
Foodbank was set up as part of a wider Christian organisation and although the charity is experiencing its largest ever demand, Dave said he had faith that enough food will be donated to carry on the work. “Just this week we had one individual bring in nearly 200 kilos of food. “It’s great to see how generous people are. And it’s so rewarding to be able to help people in crisis, to help them feed their families.”
On October 5 the food bank will be hosting a Hoedown, with live music and a hog roast at Supermarine Rugby Club.
There are a variety of ways Swindon’s Foodbank raises funds for its work – to learn more, visit www.swindon foodbank.co.uk
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