We have received this update from the marvellous people who run Catshill Food Bank through Catshill Baptist Church.

On Monday, 23 March, we all knew that we were heading to “Lockdown” and the implications for Foodbank seemed daunting. We usually base almost all that we do around our drop-in morning on a Wednesday, and we operate with such a dedicated team of volunteers – 24 in all.

The scenario was suddenly very different – no building that could be opened to the public, it looked like only 3 of our usual volunteers would be “operational” due to isolation, vulnerability or symptoms that meant they had to quarantine. In addition, our regular donation points were fast closing and options for individuals to donate diminishing.

What a mountain to climb if we were to be able to continue to operate, and most likely fulfil an ever-increasing demand.

So, there are a few stories we could tell! Like the morning when we were feeling that as one huge challenge had been dealt with, now there was another – what about supplies? People were seriously panic buying, and at Foodbank we weren’t allowed anymore allocation in supermarkets than a single individual – and the donations had all but dried up. Then God stepped in – and prompted someone to phone and ask “Is there anything I could do?” – what a blessing that has been. Aden probably wouldn’t want us to single him out, but he has been able to lead the charge on food supplies and really make a significant impact on our ability to keep going.

Everyone in Catshill Baptist Church (CBC) knows that in the last two years we have had increasing costs relating to Foodbank, and the reserves that we had two years ago were diminishing. How long would these reserves last in this situation, when we would be forced to purchase many more supplies than usual. We have seen such generosity in the community – from various local organisations, Catshill Parish Council, One Stop Shop, Worcestershire Community Foundation and shared resources from B30 Foodbank in Cotteridge and The Basement Project. Alongside these organisations we have had numerous donations from individuals as well. We can only say a massive thank you to each and every one – without this united effort it would be so much more difficult to continue.

So, Foodbank now looks very different. We deliver on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays – with our team of delivery people. We man the phones, Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, and have vouchers sent to us by email from Agencies, or phone requests for help from individuals, and we do our best to help every single one. Remember anyone can contact us for help on 07542 102649 and anyone who wishes to support the foodbank is welcome to call us for further information.

The back of CBC looks very different at the moment as we have moved out of our warehouse and have now taken over both rear halls. The smaller hall being the warehouse and the larger hall our collection area – where the drivers can come for their deliveries, and still observe social distancing.

 In total this is what we have done in the last four weeks:

Vouchers Children Adults Parcels
182 326 219 226

We still “see” a number of our regulars and have been able to help them through the extended issues over the school meal vouchers – that are still not resolved, and some of the families have experienced real difficulties along with reduced pay or loss of jobs. If you imagine that we averaged about 8-10 per week we are now on 45!! The numbers of parcels looks higher because we have gone to a more uniform “one-size” parcel, and so for the larger families we double up.

As well as having new requests all the time we have also agreed with some support workers and social workers to support a few families, and individuals long-term throughout this crisis as they have very specific needs, and the problems are not going to go away. This really is our foodbank lifeline into some of the most needy homes.

We do hope this gives you a really good flavour of what things look like now, and perhaps why it’s been impossible to send out earlier updates on where we’ve been on all this.

All the team appreciate your prayers and concerns – we are all doing well, and for the time being we all seem to know what we are doing now – which is some achievement!!

Anyone who wishes to support the Foodbank can do so by going on the www.catchillbaptist.org.uk website and on the home page is a link to Foodbank and a donate button. Collections of donations can be arranged  if requested.

Categories: Social Care

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