Chelwood Foodbank Plus, based in Stockport, provide a safe haven for local residents who are facing financial hardship and are struggling to provide the basics for themselves and their families.

Chelwood have in excess of 60 referral agents sending clients to them daily. There has been a steady increase in service users to the food bank and the other services that they provide. They also have a referral system called the Pots & Pans Project, where they give donated utensils, cutlery and crockery, pots and pans, to those that are in need.

The foodbank gives people the opportunity to talk to someone and receive much needed ingredients to stock their cupboards without being judged. It also gives them the chance to talk to someone in the same situation as them, or someone who understands what they’re going through.

This project is very often a lifeline for many people, with many families coming to the foodbank for emergency food parcels. Providing this service in a safe and warm environment is not only a lifeline, but a valuable source of further support by signposting to other services that may be needed. It also reduces anti-social or criminal behaviour in the area, that has been carried out in order to obtain funds to buy food.

Luke found Chelwood Foodbank Plus while living on the streets. The foodbank donated a sleeping bag and tent, clothing and food to help Luke out. Since then Luke has turned over a new leaf and has helped out at the foodbank on a number of occasions, promoting awareness days and helping with food collections.

This is Luke’s story:

Luke became homeless in January 2014. He fell in with the wrong crowd and got into debt because of drug use. His mother kicked him out and he then stayed with friends. While he was staying with friends, the police came looking for Luke and knocked at a few houses looking for him. As a result, his friends kicked him out. Luke also owed his friends money due to selling cannabis on their behalf and keeping money to support himself.

Luke then found himself in supported accommodation but ended up in more trouble when he brought a cannabis plant onto the premises, resulting in being throw out. The police were involved and Luke had to do community service. Luke resorted to sofa surfing, but then ended up roughing it in a tent in Stockport town centre. Luke again fell in with a bad crowd, thieving from cars. He was caught and locked up for 11 days. He was then released and brought back to Manchester court where he was given bail.

This experience really scared Luke and the turning point for him was when his mother and brother offered to re-build their broken relationships with him. Chelwood Foodbank Plus have encouraged him to stay on the straight and narrow with ongoing help and support and signposting to other services.

Chelwood Foodbank Plus said: “There are many ‘Lukes’ out there, it just takes somebody to listen and give a little time to them, not just food and clothing.”