Yesterday I took some of our ambassadors to visit Chelwood Foodbank, one of the community initiatives that Forever Manchester supports.
The foodbank provides essential food items to between 40 and 100 individuals and families each week across Stockport, and dishes up hot meals to homeless people on Sunday evenings.
The store cupboard at the back of Chelwood Baptist Church is lined with MDF shelving almost buckling under the weight of bags of rice, pasta and sugar and hundreds of tins categorised into meat, fish, beans, veg, fruit and dessert.
“The majority of the food is donated,” Marc Godwin, who runs the foodbank with 40 volunteers, tells us, “but we always have to top up items like sugar, coffee and juice because we always get given beans. And more beans.”
The foodbank operates using a referral system in partnership with local agencies that send people to the foodbank in emergency situations.
“The most common cases are big utility bills, Jobcentre sanctions and benefit changes – the bedroom tax is the most disruptive – but we see anyone from couch surfers to care leavers. 80% of people only come once but in that single moment we’re helping people who have to choose between eating and heating.”
As we’re leaving, a number of people walk in and the volunteer team springs into action. “Two adults, three children; a single adult; a family of six!” We join in the mad rush of throwing a set list of goods into bags and searching for request items like two tins of dog food.
There was a buzz in that small back room and a lovely sense of community spirit as we handed the bags over. Although I’ve worked at Forever Manchester for 18 months and understand exactly what we do, it’s only at times like these when I see grassroots, volunteer-led action – local people helping local people, people at their best – that I genuinely remember why we’re here.
You can donate food items to Chelwood Foodbank by visiting www.chelwoodfoodbankplus.org