SWINDON’S new food bank is celebrating its first birthday and is now a stable functional business which with continuing day to day support from the community, will operate into the future.

In May 2018 the volunteers at Swindon Foodbank were shocked to be told it would be closing as support from the Trussell Trust, a national food bank franchise, was being withdrawn and the charity operating the food bank felt unable to continue.

Within days a group of volunteers formed a new organisation, Swindon Food Collective, to take over the operation of the food bank. A grant of £51k from the borough council allowed it to buy two vans from the previous charity to collect and distribute food. This money, along with the continued support of our 65 plus volunteers, allowed the food bank to continue.

Nearly a year on and the organisation has been granted charity status by the Charity Commission, has directly fed 5200 people - 28 per cent of them childre.

Borough council social inclusion and enterprise manager Andrew Hill, said: “My direct involvement as an advisor to the SFC board will shortly come to an end. I am glad that SBC was able to step in and stabilise a dire situation."

Dr Clare Collier from the food bank said: “We are eternally grateful to Swindon Borough Council for their rapid interim support. We need around £35k per year to operate. We had nothing until SBC stepped in and saved the operation. They have given us the opportunity to get ourselves straight and we are now ready to operate relying on support from personal donors, church and school collections, and support from local businesses and charity events. I would like to thank Andrew for his help and support over the last year and Swindon Borough Council for their faith in the viability of and need for our food bank.”

Dr Collier said the charity still needs more help. “We need sponsors and donors to help with running costs, as well as volunteers to help with fundraising and working in our distribution centres especially at St Peters in Penhill and St Johns in Park South.”

“Of course, we always need food donations which can be made at most of the town’s major supermarkets and other local outlets.”

“We also need help running the charity. We have recently started a membership scheme. Members will have voting rights to decide how the Charity is run and trustees will be nominated from the membership. Details of how to join are on our website.”

Cllr Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Commercialisation, Education and Skills, concluded: “Volunteers across Swindon provide extremely valuable services to help people in need. As a Council we provide a range of services to help people but we can’t do it all alone. Organisations like Swindon Food Collective work in partnership with the Council to make sure we all play our part in helping each other across the town. I am grateful to all of the volunteers and all the people who make generous donations.”