Express & Star

Watch: Volunteers and staff at major Wolverhampton food bank get ready to send out essential packages for those in need

The Express and Star launched its Feed a Family campaign in October 2022 in response to the cost of living crisis.

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The aim was to highlight the work of food banks from across the West Midlands and Black Country and highlight where people could donate to them, with many collection points saying they were struggling for supplies at the time.

Fast forward to April 2024 and the food banks are busier than ever, with referrals increasing and volunteers and staff across all organisations working harder than ever.

We checked in with three of them to see how they are coping at Easter where the message of helping others is often highlighted.

It might be the Easter break for some but not for the hard working volunteers and staff at The Well, Wolverhampton where it is full speed ahead with their deliveries of up to 30 parcels a day.

And for the Christian based organisation whose stated vision is to reflect God's heart for the poor and needy in all they do, the Easter period is even more poignant.

In December last year, The Well, based on the Wulfrun Trading Estate on Stafford Road put out an urgent appeal for help as it found itself running low on stock and struggling to meet demand.

But at the moment they have 50-60 volunteers a day working hard to package parcels, each of which contain three days of nutritionally balanced tinned and dried food for each person in the household, plus toiletries and baby items.

Each package has a sticker on it saying 'Love from Jesus' which not only reflects the Christian ethos of the organisation but also acts as a seal to say that all the items are within their best before date and fit to be taken out and at Easter there will also be an egg included within the items.

Packing the parcels with a message of hope for Easter at The Well Wolverhampton - 'With love from Jesus'.

The Well, which is the home of Wolverhampton Foodbank, has been providing the city’s vulnerable and needy with much needed food parcels since 2006.

Since its first referral, it has directly helped more than 50,000 households and received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of their work in 2021.

Instead of operating a drop in service, they prefer to deliver to people who have been referred to them, with those referrals coming from a variety of sources from childrens' centres, the CAB, police and Wolverhampton City Council.

One major source of them used to be the Job Centre who would send names of claimants but last month that stopped due to it breaching data privacy law. Charities warned it would cause delays in criss help for thousands of hungry households but Gary Price, project leader at The Well said they were busier than ever.

Volunteer Thomas Walsh. makes sure each package goes out with an Easter Egg.

He said: "We were a bit surprised at that because we as an organisation have gone through all the relevant checks and have the right paperwork, but there are a lot of other agencies who refer people or families to us with the police and the city council being major ones.

"It is always busy here at The Well, we send out up to 30 parcels a day and put the label on to kind of get our message across with a bible verse included as well.

"The labels are two fold – to make sure everything has gone through the relevant checks and is in date and to give them a message which seems to be appreciated as there are a lot of lonely and vulnerable people using our service.

"This year seems to have exploded in terms of referrals and the number of people enquiring about the service – we operate two vans and now have five full time members of staff as well as the volunteers.

"We deliberately have gone down the delivery route because charities and other agencies were sometimes struggling to get clients to pick up the parcels as we cover the whole WV postcode.

"People also appreciate a friendly face at the door – many of them don't see people on a day to day basis.

"Of course the parcels are appreciated as well and the message we are trying to get across which as well as the Christian ethos is to support people in difficult situations which can range from redundancy to domestic violence or temporary or permanent financial difficulties."

Volunteer Kay Stokes hard at work overseeing the packages which go out from The Well, Wolverhampton

For details on The Well and the Wolverhampton Foodbank go to

Another church based organisation set up by a member of the congregation but which is specifically based at mothers and babies is thriving outgrowing its base.

Viv Sterling set up the Wednesfield Baby Bank in November 2022 at Wednesfield Seventh Day Adventist Church, Lichfield Road where she is a long term member of the congregation.

The organisation literally uses a small room at the church where it provides clothing, wipes, nappies, toiletries, baby milk, blankets, and other small items. as well as larger ones such as pushchairs and buggies. But with the increase in the number of people needing their services, Viv is looking to expand.

She said: "Not exclusively, but we often look after mothers who have perhaps slipped through the net in terms of help from the government, job centres and the like.

"They may have just arrived in the country and be seeking asylum and at the current time not entitled to anything, or alternatively they could be just facing extreme financial hardship or suffering from domestic violence. The aim is to not turn anyone away and to try and look after them whilst sign posting them to long term help.

"I go to the church and had the idea a while back and literally set up the baby bank in a room at the church. There are around four of us providing the service and we are looking to acquire additional storage space in the near future so we can store a wider selection of items.

"The church have been very helpful with this and we are hopeful we can expand the service to help even more people because the demand is certainly there in Wednesfield and other areas."

"We are on a neighbourhood app called neighbourly on which people can contact us anonymously and that has proved to be very useful because most people are on social media now so it is a good way of getting in touch or being tipped off about someone who is need.

For more details on the Wednesfield Baby Bank go to

When volunteers come to the Wednesbury based Breaking Bread food bank they tend to stay.

Breaking Bread, which operates out of a shop in Walsall Street in the town centre, has been going for over 11 years with a number of staff having been there the whole time and others for over five.

The oldest volunteer, Brian Williams is 86 and Lin Walford who helps run the service, said demand for their services is greater than ever. Lin – who isn't in the best of health but still works from home for the service and takes up to eight calls a day – said it shows how much the service is needed.

She said: "We are open twice a week and independent of the Trussell Trust and other organisations so have to do everything ourselves and don't have a support network from outside but we have around 11 hard working volunteers ranging in ages from 40 to 86 and we tend to retain them so the work must be rewarding – it is certainly much needed.

"Everybody has to be referred which is probably just as well because it would be hard to cope otherwise, I know that from the number of calls we get when we are not open but we don't turn anyone away although the telephone is turned off on a Sunday.

"The organisation was started by Churches Together in Wednesbury and the message of hope and helping others is very relevant at this time of year in particular – that is what we are here for though of course it is an all year round service.

"It is a great team we have here, we call it a family and although I am said to be in charge it is probably because of the role I take, generally being hands on and dealing with referrals - there are people here who help with the admin and also volunteer in the shop it is a case of mucking in and getting on with it.

"I would say though that demand for our services is just as great as ever if not greater and we always need donations although the people of Wednesbury are incredibly generous and we are helped by organisations sich as Morrisons which operates a drop off service in the town. The only difference with Easter is we are closing early on Good Friday at 5pm but otherwise it will be service as normal."

Breaking Bread is open on Wednesdays from 10am-3pm and Friday 1-7pm at their base in Walsall Street, Wednesbury – they are in need of non perishable food donations, in particular UHT milk, tins of tomatoes, fruite and rice pudding and toiletries including toilet rolls

For more details and referrals visit www,

Foodbanks across the Black Country:

Black Country Foodbank: The Storehouse, Albion Street, Brierley Hill, DY5 3EE. Open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Telephone: 01384 671250. Website: Deadline for Christmas food is December 3.

The Well: Unit 16, Wulfrun Trading Estate, Stafford Road, Wolverhampton WV10 6HH. Open Tuesday to Friday 8.30am to 1pm. Please call 01902 256523 before you deliver. Sainsbury’s in Wombourne, Perton and Wednesfield have donation points as well as Asda in Wolverhampton. Website:

Breaking Bread Food Bank: 93-94 Walsall Street, Wednesbury, WS10 9BY tel 07936 744 177. Opening houers Wed 10am-3pm Friday 1-7pm

Harvest Community Food Bank: New Testament Church of God, New Trust Centre, 1 Wolverhampton Road (on the corner of Woden Road & Wolverhampton Road), Heath Town, Wolverhampton, WV10 0PD Telephone: 01902 453190. Email: Website: Open Fridays between 3.30pm and 4.30pm. Referral is not necessary but proof of address is required.

Good Shepherd Ministry, Wolverhampton: Food and toiletries can be donated at Sainsbury’s in Chapel Ash. If you have a large number of items to donate, call 01902 399955 to arrange delivery or collection. Website:

Excel Church Food Bank: Wolverhampton Street, Bilston, WV14 0LT. 01902 402273. Open Monday to Wednesday, 9am to 5pm.

Bilston Community Shop CIC: 25A Market Way, Bilston, WV14 0DR. Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9am to 2.30pm. Telephone: 07361 557009. Opening date TBC

Cannock and District Food Bank: Coniston Hall, Cecil Street, Chadsmoor, WS11 5HD. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm. Telephone: 01543 422394. Website:

Rugeley Food Bank: Rugeley Community Centre, Burnthill Lane, Rugeley, WS15 2HX. Open Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm. Tesco also have a collection point, as do most Rugeley churches. Telephone: 07528 447504. Website:

Walsall North Food Bank: Pelsall Methodist Church, Chapel Street. Open Tuesdays, 11am to 1pm, and Fridays 1pm to 3pm. Telephone: 07582 869895. Website:

Bloxwich and Blakenall Food Bank: Blakenall Village Centre, Thames Road, Blakenall, Walsall, WS3 1LZ. Open Thursdays 11am to 1pm. Telephone: 07747 301374. Website:

Smethwick Food Bank: Holy Trinity Church, Church Hill Street, Smethwick, B67 7AH. Tuesdays and Fridays, 12pm to 2pm. Telephone: 0121 5170141. Website:

Quinton and Oldbury Food Bank: St Boniface Church, Quinton Road West, Quinton, B32 2QD. Open Wednesdays, 11am to 1pm. Telephone: 07732 157619. Website:

Kidderminster Food Bank, based at the Swan Centre: Food can be donated at Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsburys in Kidderminster, Tesco and Co-op in Stourport. Website:

House of Bread: HoB Office: Unit 124 Centurion House, Anson Court, Beacondside, ST18 0GB.

CAFE43: 43 Browning Street, Stafford, ST16 3AX. Cafe open Monday: 12pm to 2pm and 3pm to 5pm, Wednesday: 9.30am to 11am, 12pm to 2pm and 3pm to 5pm and Thursday: 9.30am to 11am, 12pm to 2pm and 3pm to 5pm.