St Ann’s Advice Centre – Foodbank
In 2012 we opened St Ann’s food bank in response to the increasing need in the area. When other food banks opened in the city in the following year, we changed our criteria and restricted ours to feeding people with no income, for as long as they needed feeding, and from anywhere across the conurbation. This filled a gap in provision as the other food banks only provided 3 x 3-day parcels in any one crisis episode.
In March this year we took on the role of food distributors for our, and 2 other, neighbouring wards. We provide a week’s parcel to each household that is facing hardship and in need of support. Some are self-referrals, others are linked via social services, city council help and support line, housing associations and other active voluntary and community partners.
We went from feeding 40 – 50 people per week to 250-300 in a very short space of time. We relied heavily, and was not disappointed, on local volunteers, drivers, donations, and money contributions.
The funding we receive from BGET supports the provision of energy vouchers to enable clients who have no energy in the house to cook, wash, heat and light their homes. This practical support alongside the food parcel is vital. We ask the client if they need a ‘cooking’ or a ‘non- cooking’ food parcel to determine whether they have energy, this way we can determine their need for a voucher as clients are often reluctant to speak of the full extent of their crisis.
It is simply not enough just to provide this practical support, so we always work with the client to address the underlying cause of their destitution. The BGET allows an advisor to work with a client in a person-centered way by resolving their immediate crisis, providing advice, advocacy and where needed representation to maximize their income and minimize their debts. The energy efficiency advice is part of a wider package of support to help clients move towards a place of stability and become more financially resilient longer term.