In February 2002 Wendy was praying into a burden to see some form of ministry to the poor that could be of practical use to those seeking help from us.
Part of the prayer/vision was a shelved room filled from floor to ceiling with storage crates labelled and containing items ready for distribution. Some of the crates’ labels read: Clothing-shoes, Household-loo rolls, and Food-non perishable, she called the written proposal to the church elders “Foodbank”.
While we were not able to set things up in the way Wendy had seen at first we were able to feed people in an adhoc way for the intervening three years via other projects.
Eventually the Elders of Chawn Hill Church came across an organisation that were offering a “franchise” of a project they were calling ‘Food Bank’, Wendy was asked to investigate further.
In the Spring of 2006 ‘Food Bank’ was launched to the cell groups of Chawn Hill Church with a Cell Cooking Challenge. Cells were asked to cook a savoury or sweet dish to bring and share, using only the ingredients on the ‘Food Bank’ shopping list. They were also asked to bring along to the gathering an item from the list to deposit in the bank. Those cell groups brought along our first deposit of 135kg of food which we were able to use to feed families the next day via our Pastoral Assistant Steve Buck.
We signed-up to the Trussell Trust in the Summer of 2006 and began the process of making this project work for our community here in the Dudley Borough and beyond. Chawn Hill Church gave us shared use of an 8ft x 12ft office which we soon swamped, along with a computer and phone line.
By the end of 2006 we had fed 47 people including 10 children which we thought was fantastic, we had about a dozen voucher holders sending people to be fed and Chawn Hill Church along with four local primary schools’ harvest collections depositing food.
We also reached a small milestone for us of feeding 100 people in June of 2007 and it was also almost the anniversary of when we’d launched to the cell groups, which we celebrated by taking the volunteers for a Balti meal.
In the November of 2007 we launched the ‘Food Bank’ to the churches of Stourbridge and the wider borough along with interested local councillers and Lynda Waltho MP (our local MP in Stourbridge). After this event we were able to start finding more organisations to hold vouchers as we now had food being deposited by a cross-section of the Christian denominations.In 2007 we also had to take over another space in the Church Centre just for the admin, as well as utilising a storage space for the clothing we were being given. The vision was beginning to come to life before our eyes.
We are now a registered UK charity, No: 1136676.