Thornbury Foodbank reflects on 10 years’ supporting people in need

Published: Tuesday August 1, 2023

In June, the Foodbank outlet in the historic market town Thornbury marked its 10-year anniversary of opening.

The Foodbank is run by volunteers from churches in the area. Mair Vaughn, part of the Thornbury Foodbank Management Team, reflects on how demand has changed over the years and the creative ways the community has pulled together to help.

Foodbanks provide emergency meals for three days to people in crisis caused by situations such as benefit delay, separation, unexpected bills, debt, bereavement or redundancy. It’s a service for local people in short-term difficulties to remove the worry of feeding their families while problems are sorted out.

The Thornbury outlet of the North Bristol and South Glos Foodbank is based at Thornbury Baptist Church and was officially opened by the Mayor on 7 June 2013.  In 2023, the Foodbank is in more demand than ever with the cost of living crisis affecting everyone in the Foodbank chain – the number of clients needing food support has increased by around 20%, while donations have decreased by 14%.

Mair has been involved in the Foodbank since it opened. “Ten years is a significant milestone in the life of the Foodbank here at Thornbury, although it’s not something we wanted to celebrate. We will do that when the need for Foodbanks has gone! We did, however, arrange a thank you lunch for our volunteers. It was a good opportunity to catch up with those who were with us from the beginning and others who are journeying with us now.”

“Donations are needed more than ever.”

The Thornbury Foodbank outlet is a Thornbury Churches Together initiative, with people from across Thornbury’s churches helping to run it. To help with the provision of fresh food this year, people have been donating their own-grown produce.

Mair says, “One of our faithful volunteers has a plot at Daggs Allotment and approached the other growers to see if they would consider sharing some of their excess produce with us. So now on a Friday, we are given fresh food from the allotments, which clients can help themselves to when they come in for their appointment. Our clients have very much appreciated this addition to their parcels.

While donations from our community are down, we continue to be thankful for them. Every item we receive, in kind or financially, is appreciated as we seek to show love and care to those in need.”

With the school summer holidays underway, Foodbanks across the Diocese face one of their busiest periods of the year, providing food, essentials and debt advice to families in crisis.

Mair says, “Donations this time of year are needed more than ever. With children off school, and missing out on free school meals, we see an increase in families coming to collect food and other items.”

Lynda Frost, a Foodbank volunteer and a member of St Paul’s Church says, “I feel I have had and continue to have a very good life so I really want to help those less fortunate. I like talking to our clients and am especially pleased if we can help them, not only by giving food, but in some other way, e.g. by pointing them in the right direction to get the help they need or just by listening to them and giving them time and understanding. I feel that as Christians we are called to help others and, for me, helping at Foodbank is a way I can put my faith into action, working as part of a great team who have the same values as I do, whether they regard themselves as Christians or not.”

One client said, “If, 12 months ago, someone had told me that I’d be relying on a Foodbank to feed me, I would have laughed at them. … By the time I found the Foodbank, I hadn’t eaten for three days and was desperate. If I’m honest, there’s far more embarrassment than pleasure having to go cap-in-hand to a food charity. That said, they treated me with understanding, compassion and moreover, like a human being.”

Mair says, “On behalf of all of those benefiting from your kindness, generosity and concern, and always in the hope that one day Foodbanks will no longer be needed, we want to thank you again for making life a little easier for those in need of our help. We couldn’t do it without your support.”

The North Bristol Foodbank is part of The Trussell Trust’s UK wide foodbank network. To find out more about Foodbanks in your area, visit:  The Trussell Trust – Stop UK Hunger

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