Foodbank ready for summer

NAWN 1807241AM1 Wetherby Food Bank. Project manager Claire Fleetwood with  team leader John Borman and volunteer Sheila Hollaway.   (1807241AM1)
NAWN 1807241AM1 Wetherby Food Bank. Project manager Claire Fleetwood with team leader John Borman and volunteer Sheila Hollaway. (1807241AM1)

Wetherby Foodbank is ready to support families and help stop them from going hungry during the summer holidays.

No-one plans to be unable to feed themselves and their family and as a nation nobody is expected to go hungry.

But illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job can happen without warning and few people have enough savings to help them through such a crisis.

Which is when Wetherby and District Foodbank can step in to help, especially during school holidays.

One of 1,200 foodbank centres operated by the Trussell Trust charity, it provides more than just food.

Project Manager Claire Fleetwood said: “We are a friendly, welcoming place with hot drinks and biscuits available. What we offer is a caring, listening ear in a relaxed environment.

“If necessary, we try to direct people towards further help they may need.

“We don’t make judgments about the people we see and we don’t talk about individual cases outside the Foodbank Centres.”

The food, which is all non-perishable, is donated by the public through collection points at local schools, churches, businesses and supermarkets.

Foodbank volunteers make up food parcels based on the family’s needs and are designed to provide enough food for three days.

Toiletries, sanitary products and household products are also available.

Before they can visit the Foodbank, users have to get a voucher from a referral agency such as the One Stop Centre in Wetherby or from local schools, churches and children’s centres.

Claire added: “The school summer holidays can be a particularly difficult time for families.

“When the children are at home, you’re feeding them more than when they are at school having a free school meal.”

“But we are open throughout the year to provide help and support to anyone who needs it.

“It is local community looking after itself.”

Wetherby and District Foodbank has two distribution centres.

The one at Deepdale Community Centre in Boston Spa is open on Monday from 10am-noon.

In Wetherby the centre at Barleyfields Community Centre is open on Tuesday and Friday from 10am-noon.

Care support worker, Donna, saw her life turned upside down when she was hospitalised after suffering two mini-strokes. Forced to stop working and not eligible for sick pay, the 44-year-old, mother-of-three soon began to struggle.

“I was always pretty good on managing and saving. But because I was not working, the savings were getting very low,” she admits. “Things had to be paid for and I didn’t want the kids to suffer.

“We had some food in the cupboard and freezer, but it was starting to get lower and lower. I wasn’t doing what I should have been doing as a mother.”

Donna knew she had to ask for help.

“It was either asking somebody to lend me money, and having that debt, or going to the foodbank. So, I decided to go to the foodbank.”

Although Donna was nervous about going to the foodbank, she is thankful they were able to support her through this difficult time.

“I sat in the car park for about ten minutes getting the courage to go in. But the welcome when I got through the doors was just phenomenal, I felt so at ease. They listened and offered me tea. It was so nice and family-based.”