Food banks in larger demand as campaign returns

Far busier than normal – and braced for a winter like no other. Foodbanks today spoke of their fears for families as the cost of living crisis deepens.

Councillor Olivia Birch, Moses Rivas, Councillor Linda Leach, John Raj, Paulette Chattwood and Councillor Zee Russell at the Bilston Community Shop
Councillor Olivia Birch, Moses Rivas, Councillor Linda Leach, John Raj, Paulette Chattwood and Councillor Zee Russell at the Bilston Community Shop

Spiralling fuel bills and the ever-increasing cost of groceries are putting people at very real risk of going short.

Today the Express & Star launches the Feed a Family campaign.

We have for many years made an appeal at Christmas for groceries to help foodbanks meet demand.

But, with inflation rampant and enormous pressure on gas and electricity bills, there is an urgent need for help right now, as we enter the last bank holiday of the summer.

On this page are a list of foodbanks that help hundreds of families each week. We are those that are able to donate groceries to those foodbanks to ensure their stocks are full enough to get through the next few weeks and months.

Our Feed a Family campaign has helped hand out tens of thousands of emergency food and toiletry parcels in over the years to support charities and food banks working to support people struggling to make ends meet.

Jane Webb, Victoria Thomson and Will Morris work to help people struggling to pay bills and have a hot meal

House of Bread in Stafford offers a range of services, from a pay-what-you-can cafe to help with washing clothes, sorting out finances and providing a food bank service for those most in need across the borough.

Resource manager Jack Morris said the summer months were usually busy for House of Bread, with houses having extra mouths to feed, but said the increase this year had been very noticeable. And that is before household fuel bills are expected to rise.

He said: "Summer is an interesting time as you've got children at home, meaning a lot of extra mouths to feed during the summer months, so we always get an increase in family needs around that time.

"However, we are getting more calls from agencies, from social workers and from people who say they are struggling and need help with their bills.

"I took three calls in one day around this specific subject, with people not just struggling for food, but with paying their electricity bills, so there has definitely been an increase."

Mr Morris said the main items people had been asking for help with started with food, as the name of the charity suggested, but said they had other fears as well that they wanted help with.

He said: "For most, it used to be a choice between heating or eating, but now, with the cost of food going up, it's not a choice, but more a worry that they won't be able to heat their home and eat.

"Cooking is one of the last things people do because it's so expensive to buy the food and actually put on the gas, meaning that we've seen a lot more people come to our cafe for a hot meal, rather than taking home food to cook for themselves.

"We have had quite a broad demographic of people and we've had people from all over the region coming to us for help and it's worrying for them to have to decide between heating their home or eating."

Christine Endean and Gary Price from The Well keep the food parcels stocked

In Wolverhampton, the Well has been a beacon of light, delivering hundreds of food parcels each week to people across the city over the last 16 years.

The charity fed thousands of people during the coronavirus pandemic and project leader Caroline Price said the demand for help now is as big as it ever was.

She said: "The phone just hasn't stopped ringing and we've had to limit how many deliveries and how many referrals we take each day because of the number of drivers we have.

"We're currently delivering 30 parcels a day, which means 120 households a week, and that could include households with a family of four, so that equates to more than 400 people a week that we're supporting, but it also changes from week to week.

"We just know the demand is rising and it isn't just for food, as we've had to take on a new unit to expand what we're doing and to receive more food and also electrical goods, because people haven't got kettles, microwaves or toasters."

Ms Price said she and other members of the team had spoken to people who had only recently been referred to the service and said they couldn't believe they were in the situation they were in.

She said: "We don't have a lot of contact as people get referred to us, but when we drop off the parcels, we get a lot of emails from people who tell us they can't believe how much food was in the parcel.

"They tell us that they didn't expect to be made redundant or not have enough money or have to rely on a food bank and always thought it was other people who were in that situation.

"We have enough to be able to meet supply at present, but we're always in need of stock as there are lots of people out there who need help, so food donations and financial support is always appreciated for us."

A new initiative being set up in Bilston is set to offer reduced price food and help with utilities to people across the town and further afield.

The Bilston Community Shop, which is a partnership with Wolverhampton Council, is being set up by John Raj, the former co-ordinator of Excel Church Food Bank, which helped hundreds of families across Bilston.

Mr Raj said the idea of the shop was to help people who were struggling to save some money, having heard from the community about how much people were struggling.

He said: "Families are still struggling more than ever, particularly during the school holidays, with the cost of food rising and the predicted energy costs rise, but it's sad to see the number of elderly people who are petrified about what is happening.

"Fear has been one of the biggest things, with families and the elderly left with the decision they're going to have to make about food and energy costs and how are they going to cope and survive in the coming months."

Mr Raj said the shop would be a way of helping families through reduced prices for food, as well as a giveaway of surplus stock at the end of each day, as well as help from energy company Utilita.

He said: "The shop will be able to provide health, affordable food for families and individuals, enabling them to save money on food that they can put towards the energy bill.

"I think the concept of the community shop is to give dignity to people, especially the working families who are finding it so difficult."

Below is a list of foodbanks that help hundreds of families each week, and below that is a list of the kind of things you should buy if you want to help:

How you can help

FOODBANKS

  • Black Country Foodbank

The Storehouse, Albion Street, Brierley Hill, DY5 3EE. Open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Telephone: 01384 671250. Website: blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk. 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: thewellwolverhampton.co.uk.

  • 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: info@ntcgharvesttemple.org.uk. Website: ntcgharvesttemple.org.uk. 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: gsmwolverhampton.org.uk.

  • Excel Church Food Bank

Wolverhampton Street, Bilston, WV14 0LT. 01902 402273. Open Monday to Wednesday, 9am to 5pm. excelchurch.org.uk/foodparcel.

  • 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: cannockdistrict.foodbank.org.uk.

  • 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: rugeley.foodbank.org.uk.

  • Walsall North Food Bank

Pelsall Methodist Church, Chapel Street. Open Tuesdays, 11am to 1pm, and Fridays 1pm to 3pm. Telephone: 07582 869895. Website: walsallnorth.foodbank.org.uk

  • Bloxwich and Blakenall Food Bank

Blakenall Village Centre, Thames Road, Blakenall, Walsall, WS3 1LZ. Open Thursdays 11am to 1pm. Telephone: 07747 301374. Website: bloxwichblakenall.foodbank.org.uk.

  • Great Barr Food Bank

St Bernard’s Church, Broome Avenue Great Barr B43 5AL. Open Fridays 12pm to 3pm. Telephone: 0121 3575399. Website: greatbarr.foodbank.org.uk.

  • Smethwick Food Bank

Holy Trinity Church, Church Hill Street, Smethwick, B67 7AH. Tuesdays and Fridays, 12pm to 2pm. Telephone: 0121 5170141. Website: smethwick.foodbank.org.uk.

  • Quinton and Oldbury Food Bank

St Boniface Church, Quinton Road West, Quinton, B32 2QD. Open Wednesdays, 11am to 1pm. Telephone: 07732 157619. Website: quintonoldbury.foodbank.org.uk.

  • 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: kidderminster.foodbank.org.uk.

  • 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.

*

For those unsure of what items are needed and suitable, here is an easy-to-follow list of the most useful products to donate to our very worthy causes.

WHAT TO BUY

CUPBOARD ESSENTIALS

  • Breakfast cereal

  • (preferably non-sugared)

  • Milk (UHT or powder, preferably

  • semi-skimmed)

  • Jam, marmalade

  • Fruit Juice (long-life)

  • Small jars of coffee

  • Hot chocolate

  • Tinned meat

  • (ham,corned beef, Spam)

  • Tinned ready meals

  • (chilli, meatballs, stew)

  • Tinned vegetarian ready meals

  • (curry, ratatouille, macaroni cheese) Packets of mashed potato/tinned potatoes

  • Tinned vegetables Tinned fish

  • (tuna, mackerel, salmon & sardines)

  • Pasta

  • Rice

  • Pasta sauce/ cooking sauces

  • Tinned fruit (in juice preferably)

  • Tinned rice pudding/custard

  • Healthy snacks

  • (small boxes of raisins/apricots)

  • Biscuits, crackers, crispbreads

TOILETRIES

  • Deodorants

  • Shampoo

  • Shower Gel

  • Soap

  • Toothbrushes

  • Toothpaste

  • Sanitary towels

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