Every day people in Bristol struggle to put food on the table for reasons ranging from redundancy or benefit sanctions, to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. Increasingly, parents skip meals to feed their children and people are forced to choose between paying the rent and eating. The North Bristol Foodbank, as part of the UK-wide Trussell Trust Foodbank network, provides a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis. In Bristol, there are three Trussell Trust foodbanks and a number of independent foodbanks.
At Ebenezer Church, we started this foodbank in September 2012 in partnership with our friends at Filton Community Church.
How a Foodbank works
Step 1: Non-perishable food is donated by schools, churches, businesses and individuals
Step 2: Volunteers sort and pack food into nutritionally-balanced emergency food packages
Step 3: Frontline care professionals, such as doctors and social workers, give Foodbank vouchers to people in crisis
Step 4: Foodbank vouchers are exchanged for 3 days of food at a Foodbank outlet
Step 5: Foodbank volunteers take time to listen to clients and signpost them on to other useful organisations or longer term means of support
Our work so far
What follows are statistics from 2014, and the trends are continuing for the second half of this year.
• 4149 people were given 3 days’ emergency food and support in 2017/18 at North Bristol Foodbank
• 185 Frontline care professional organisations give Foodbank vouchers to people in crisis
• Over 54 tonnes of food was donated by the public in the last 12 months
• Approximately 200+ people have volunteered with our Foodbank in 2017.
‘We resorted to borrowing a tin of soup from next door to feed our 18 month old daughter. The problems came when my partner got ill and received no sick pay. It was snowing and we were struggling to afford food and heating. In the end the cupboards were bare. I don’t know what we would have done without the Foodbank’
‘Clients come in so broken. In fact some people come in shaking because they’re so ashamed and embarrassed… And they seem to know they can share with us. And by the end of it there’s definitely hope in their eyes. There’s definitely a change in them.’
‘People are embarrassed when they come often, and we make, we really try and make them feel accepted and at ease.’
‘I've had to rein in my attitude and preconceived thoughts about people - to think about why someone is there, what somebody's story is. It's not all selfish people, grabbing; it's not all people on benefit abuse.’