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Review of 2011 – Food for thought.

Read our review of the year here

Mary Creagh MP visits Foodbank

Left - right: Pete Wunderlich, Foodbank volunteer, Mary Creagh MP, Wendy Fryatt, Foodbank Co-ordinator, Donella Russell and Hilary Bills, West Midlands Labour Party.

 

Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield and Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, visited Black Country Foodbank on Friday 2nd March and spent an hour talking with volunteer staff.  

During her visit, Mary learnt that during 2011, over 43 tonnes of food had been donated and nearly 7000 people throughout the Black Country, including 2,500 children, had been fed by the Foodbank.

Mary is a supporter of foodbanks, including those her own area in the North of England and was very impressed with the set up at the Black Country Foodbank’s warehouse based in Halesowen.

Mary said: “It was a real pleasure to meet with the volunteers from Black Country Foodbank today and to see the fantastic work they are doing to support local people who have fallen on hard times.”

“Sadly, the need for this type of service is growing sharply across the country but it’s thanks to the wonderful efforts of organisations like Black Country Foodbank and the generosity of the local community that provide a vital lifeline to those experiencing crisis” added Mary.

Wendy Fryatt, Co-ordinator at the Foodbank said: “We’re really delighted that Mary has taken the time to visit us and find out about the work we do in supporting local people in crisis. It’s been a very positive experience for everyone involved with the Foodbank. It’s really important that senior politicians of all parties are aware of the real struggle so many families are facing right now and the role that Foodbanks play in helping these people.”

Foodbank opens new distribution point in Coseley

The Foodbank volunteer team at New Hope

Black Country Foodbank has opened a new distribution point in Coseley. Called New Hope, the distribution point will be run from Darkhouse Baptist Church, Coseley to deliver emergency food supplies to people and families in the local area.

The development is the result of the partnership between Black Country Foodbank,  Darkhouse Baptist Church and Christchurch Coseley, enabling Foodbank to expand its much needed services into this area of Dudley. It now sees the Foodbank operate from 9 locations across Dudley and Walsall.

Wendy Fryatt, Co-ordinator at Foodbank says: “Last year we saw demand for our services increase by 32% where we fed almost 7000 people. The current economic climate and spiralling costs of living are tipping more and more people and families into poverty and there are real tragic stories from people who simply can’t afford to eat.”

“We first started talking about this about a year ago and so to see the project up and running is great. We hope to offer a source of hope, as well as food, to local people in need” said Dave Umbers of Darkhouse Baptist Church.

The new distribution point opened on 28th February and will be open very Tuesday between 10am and 2.00pm to provide food parcels to people referred there by local agencies.

It’s NOT Rocket Science: you donate and we give it away!

I found this article by Adi Bloom, and as a bit of a follow-up to my blog of 13/05/2011 (see below) I thought I’d post a link for you

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6088649

The title is ‘Nowhere to Call Home’

“Thousands of young people have to live in makeshift or temporary accommodation while dealing with the pressures of school and exams. Many ‘sofa surf’ with friends, unwilling to admit – even to themselves – that they are homeless. Too often, teachers miss the warning signs.”

At BCFB we’re getting more and more requests for our help every day from staff at schools in our region, teachers/admin/support, they’re having to deal with dreadful situations. We help where we can, and always we need to remember that these are children and most of them do not have the emotional experience or skills to deal with the circumstances they find themselves and their families facing.

How about a two day old baby and parents having to ‘sofa-surf’?

Thank goodness for the health professionals seeing this dreadful situation and doing something about it.

Do I get vocal about such things? Darn right I do!

Happy Birthday Black Country Foodbank?

As we at BCFB recognise our 5th Birthday this week, we are so mindful that we appear to have only ‘scratched the surface’ of the need in our communities.

So, this week any celebrations have be more subdued than you’d think and tempered with the knowelegde that we can only give away what you donate to us and for that trust, we thank you!

  • You have journeyed with us from a dining-room table to 5000ft² of storage plus the 8 distribution centres,
  • from being told there couldn’t possibly be a need for a foodbank to the statuatory sector asking us to show them how to do this,
  • from a few boxes in the back of my car to two vans on the road 5/6 days a week

Some of the other highlights, as we reflect, are:

    • Across the region we have given away “in Jesus’ name” and that of the wider community and incredible 119,120 meals
    • We’ve shifted somewhere in the realms of 124 tonnes of food
    • 2.5 tonnes of toiletries have been distributed
    • Countless items of clothing, bedding and sleeping bags have been given away
    • We’ve been able to touch the lives of over 120,000 people
  • We’ve also helped other projects around the region and beyond; who can forget the flooding in Cockermouth? We went up on the Sunday morning with about 2tonnes of food, toiletries, cleaning materials and gifts, surreal
  • In the last week we’ve taken delivery of an additional vehicle, bought with specific donations from local Christian businessmen
  • Just at head office, our volunteers contribute the equivalent of about 300 hours per week which even at min. wage comes out at about £125k worth of giving
  • The need for what we do is growing every day; the stories become more harrowing BUT we keep going cos this is what Jesus asked us to do.

Are we finished, is the job done yet? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

We’ve only just scratched the surface of the need around us.

Church, you are amazing. Look at what you have achieved!

People of the Black Country & beyond, you are incredible. Look what you’ve accomplished!

We’ll keep you updated,

Loads of Love, Wendy & ALL the team at Black Country Foodbank.

Keep up to date with us on facebook or our website: BCFB, ask to go on the mailing list

HOWEVER, there is still so much more to do…..

On a stakeout…

Aren't they amazing - volunteers!

My feet have hardly touched the ground this week…

As I sit like an undercover cop in a supermarket car park, waiting for a desperate mother to collect a few bags of goods from Foodbank, I started to jot down a little list of just the stuff that I personally have been involved with this week.

On Wednesday I met the Bishop of Wolverhampton, Clive Gregory, and the Diocese of Lichfield’s Dir. of Transforming Communities, David Primrose, at a lovely church in Darlaston. Along with council officers and people from several faith communities, we talked about how we (that’s the big ‘we’) could help and transform the communities around us.

Why do I mention this; because more and more people are turning to Church and other expressions of faith for help as they find themselves and their families at crisis or breaking-point!

I came back to the Storehouse from another meeting later in the week to see someone sitting in our (aspires to be) reception area, when I asked our volunteers who they were, they replied “This lady has knocked on the vicarage door looking for help and the vicar has brought her here to see if we could help”. So there with a great cuppa and her vicar alongside was ‘Mary’, she wasn’t looking for anything for herself but for her four children…..there was only one item we couldn’t help with: the electric and gas!

Now, we don’t give money to anyone who comes to us for help but we like to be able to signpost them to some other form of help, however in this case there was no one/nothing to signpost Mary to. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we adjusted the type of food we gave her but she still couldn’t cook anyof it and while she now had toiletries, the children had no hot water to have a bath or wash. What difference did it make whether she had the choice of tea or coffee; she can’t make a hot drink until she can “put two bob in the meter”, that’s fuel poverty! Oh, just say it….That’s poverty! full stop, no ifs buts or maybes.

Mary was dreading the forthcoming half-term break from school, not because the children would be under her feet, or she couldn’t get on with her social engagements but because she couldn’t feed them! She can’t afford to send them to the myriad of holiday clubs, her words ring true for so many other families, “there’s no free school meals, they’re going to eat me out of house an’ home, when they’re bored they eat.” We gave her extra snacks for the children; she said she’ll have to hide them to make them last the week.

Back to the supermarket car park and real life; it’s another Mum who’s desperate for food over the bank holiday weekend and impending half-term break. She scuttles across toward me with a look on her face that says, ‘are you?’, “Hi there, have you come from ***dept.?” say I, trying to not look like I’ve been wondering if I was in the right car park after all. “Thank you so much¸  thank you for waiting,” I hand her the bags that match the brand of the store we’re standing near, she looks at the contents and thanks me again.

She goes away laden with most of what she needs to get her family over the next few days; her story’s much like Mary’s, sometimes it feels like a vinyl record that’s stuck in the same groove saying the same thing over and over again but getting faster, at other times though; when someone comes back to let you know they’re back on their feet, that they’d like to make contribution to Foodbank as their way of giving something back – those are the times that keep you going, that remind you why we do this and make it the best job in the world!

In the morning, back at the office there’s a large envelope addressed to me personally; I’d been nominated for a civic award (I didn’t win) for community spirit, someone somewhere thought enough of what we do to put pen to paper. The certificate may have my name on it but it belongs to a much larger, diverse team of dedicated volunteers.

Ok, back to reality; two children’s centre workers are on their way to collect food for families however, there is only one canister of baby formula in the Storehouse and two families needing it. It’s down to who gets here first – ridiculous but true and heart-breaking at the same time.

What a day!

Volunteering Celebration @ The Storehouse

What an amazing day!

BCFB were privileged to host the Dudley CVS ‘Volunteering Champion Celebration’ here at The Storehouse today.

We welcomed the incoming Mayor of Dudley, Cllr Michael Evans to his new role as Volunteering Champion for the borough. We also got to thank Cllr Peter Miller for being such a brilliant champion of volunteering throughout his year of office.

Our volunteers were presented with certificates by the Mayor, even our visiting Finnish friend,

the press took lots of photos and there was even a birthday cake!

Why a birthday cake, you ask? Why, because we’re 5yrs old in a few weeks……

Five years and over 50,000 volunteer hours = 92,000+ meals we’ve been able to distribute to your community, WOW!

I’ve been in reflective mood this last week, what with having to look back at all our archived facts and materials, some of the photos raised a laugh and some meant tears.

As some of the dignitaries and volunteers looked at our ‘performance’ graphs they were amazed, touched and curious in equal measures about what we’ve achieved and also what those numbers represent…..people who we’ve helped with that most basic of human needs; FOOD!

Some of the photos of our volunteers, past & present, Ian who sadly died earlier this year would have loved to have been involved today, brought back so many memories of those we’ve fed; the stories they come with and the hope they go away with.

What is right with us as ‘society’?

They say ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ but watching the faces of our volunteers this morning has been painful.

other 16yr olds are concentrating on their GCSEs

S has just come in for an extra shift at The Storehouse with TWO shopping lists, not for herself or for stock at the distribution centre she runs, but for TWO teenagers who presented, separately, at BCFB

One, 16yrs old, still in school uniform, trying to sit for GCSEs, has been made homeless.

He’s got nothing!

No change of underwear, no bedding, no food – 16yrs old!

society?

The other one is a wheelchair user and again has NOTHING, but the one thing they have in common is they’re both homeless teenagers.

S is up on the mezzanine gathering together clothing, bedding etc; she got them both fed yesterday and issued toiletries.

They’ve been found accommodation by a housing association; well done…BUT what is happening to us as a society?

Last time I sat and ‘blogged’ I penned the thought about the day I’ll be able to say we’re not needed anymore, that day just seems so much further off this morning.

D’you know if our volunteers weren’t moved to tears, as they were today, I’d be worried.

Our volunteers are amazing; they selflessly give & give again without asking for anything in return.

Our communities around the region are fantastic; we let you know what’s needed and YOU send/bring it into The Storehouse, Thank You!

It’s now late afternoon, I’ve been trying to write this since 10:00am but the ‘phone keeps ringing and the emails just keep coming in with requests for our help.

Try this one (this afternoon): 2 Adults, 2 Children + 3Young Adults in a relatively affluent area of the Black Country and the children’s school has contacted us…..the family haven’t got any food and their benefits have been cut. On top of that one of the young adults is very pregnant and has nothing for the impending arrival of a precious life.

Can we help? Of course, what would you do?

Just gone 3:00pm and the ‘phone’s just rung again, this time it’s a Children’s Centre worker looking for help for a family of six but it’s ok because the volunteers have said they’ll stay later and wait for the worker to arrive so that they’ll know the family have at least been fed.

Click the links to find out the kind of things we need you to donate…

These ‘Bank Holidays’ are giving me sleepless nights…

Greetings & Salutations Everyone

I hope you’re all ready for yet another long weekend…..

Our “Voucher Queen”, Sue, has just informed me that even during this very disjointed month of April she’s sent out 37 sets of vouchers to our partner agencies, that’s 370 potential service users (more if it’s families)!

Nb. if you need vouchers; don’t leave it ‘til the last one’s gone to request your next batch, just email vouchers@blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk and our “Voucher Queen” will get them out to you asap.

the young girl's bag was held together with staples

I was with an agency worker (Anne) yesterday and she was telling me about a family we’ve helped recently:

Mum and a couple of kids; when Anne visited them they said they were ok and there were many people much worse off than them. However Anne asked to have a look in the kitchen to find that there was only a bag of rice in the cupboards, Anne had to insist that they needed a voucher and reluctantly they went off to one of our distribution centres together.

While there Anne chatted to the girl about school and discovered that her school-bag was held together with staples! One of our volunteers overheard and offered another bag but the young girl insisted she could re-staple it when she got to school.  Well Jesus had other ideas cos just that week we had rescued over a ¼tonne of ‘back to school’ goods from being crushed and incinerated, (well done to that member of staff who organized them to come to us).

That small family went away not only with the food they so desperately needed but that young girl and her brother also left with items for school which most young teens would take for granted but those few things that the family received reduced them to tears.

Can I just say a massive Thank You to all of you out there that tirelessly give so that we can help families and individuals like this. Thank You

Jeremy & Kelvin have given me their list of shortages from The Storehouse for you all, so here goes…

CEREAL all sizes

Tinned TOMATOES (these can be used to extend meals)

COOKING SAUCES (Bolognese, curry, pasta, chilli etc.)

BISCUITS (a bit of a treat)

FRUIT JUICE UHT

NOODLES ( the cheap ones, about 10p/pack)

Tinned POTATOES

I’m informed we only have approx. 1 weeks supply of

READY MEALS

(Stew, Ravioli, Bolognese, Curry, Chilli, Beans/Sausages etc. & Macaroni Cheese, Cauli. Cheese etc.)

& MEAT (Minced Beef & Onions, Stewed Steak, Corned Beef, Ham, Hot Dogs etc.)

In the Non-Food aisle we’re low on LOO ROLLS please.

Right, I’m off; hopefully our next update will include all the numbers for April….

Just a thought; wouldn’t it be brilliant if the next email you got from us was to tell you that our service was no longer needed as

everyone was fine and had enough to eat? A girl can dream, can’t she?

Don’t forget ‘Poverty Sunday’ June 26th and our 5th Birthday on 21st June; what are you going to do?

It’s Easter; what have we been up to at Black Country Foodbank?

Hi Everyone, Happy Easter!

Well, it’s Good Friday and the Storehouse is closed today hence I can get a minute to speak to you.

Month Adults Children Total Cuml.
January 297 151 448 448
February 401 207 608 1056
March 430 190 620 1676

2011 has been an amazing ride thus far…..

1676 people fed because of YOUR generosity (@31/03/2011),

that’s well up on the same period for 2010 (1112)

Amazing as these numbers are, we are getting calls and emails most days now from agencies, community groups, other charities and the general public right across the region looking for help. In some cases this is help for themselves as they’ve heard about us or looked on-line for help or agency workers looking for a way to help those they’re working with.

Those of you who keep up to date with us on our web site www.blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk or

via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/blackcountryfoodbank will have noticed a shortage of posts; well that’s why I’m plugging away at the office today – we’ve been so busy!

If we’re busy it means we need your help even more……

Jeremy, Kelvin & Dave have given me a list of what’s needed on the shelves¸ so here goes:

In the FOOD department the stocks are low of:                TOMATOES (Tinned, Cartons)

COOKING SAUCES (Jars, Cans, Cartons, Dried)

RICE PUDDING (Tinned)

FRUIT JUICE (UHT- Cartons or Bottles)

SQUASH

Tinned READY MEALS (Meat & Vegetarian)

-Macaroni Cheese, Spag. Bol., Beans & Sausages, Stew/Casserole

Breakfast CEREALS

In the Non-FOOD aisle they need:                                         TOILET ROLLS

SANITARY TOWELS

Roll-On DEODERANT

SHAMPOO

SHOWER GEL

We’ve had a health visitor in this week (15mth old twins in need) so we need to replenish our stocks:

anyone out there got COTS (travel or otherwise) hiding in the garage or loft,

COT BEDDING

PUSHCHAIRS/PRAMS (especially if suitable for newborns)

Another agency have asked for a LADIES CYCLE for someone who’s gone self-employed (very enterprising) but needs a cycle to get to jobs.

We’ve given away the one’s we had in stock just in the last month; “Fred’s” using the one we gave him to get to his Prince’s Trust Team course and the other one went via Loaves & Fishes to one of the people they helped. Howszat! sadly I’m a cricket fan and the new season is creeping up on me.

Something for your diaries:

Black Country Foodbank is 5 yrs old this June 21st

Can you think about how you, your friends, your office, your school could help us celebrate?

Send us your ideas to admin@blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk

  • Here’s one idea: Sunday 26th June is POVERTY SUNDAY go online to http://www.cuf.org.uk/act/poverty-sunday
  • What about a day when you give what you would have spent on food or going out to BCFB
  • People of Church@Junction10 have taken part in a Foodbank Challenge, eating and drinking only what they would have received from Foodbank had they needed the service and getting sponsored to do it!   We’ve got the resource packs at the office if you &/or your family/group want to take part.

So, please keep in touch

Thank You ALL so very much for all your giving,

The reason we do this is the very reason we celebrate Easter!

When so much has been given for us how can we not respond?

It’s April 2011!

Hello Everyone

It’s April, a quarter of 2011 has been and gone…..

Foodbank has been very busy serving the community and I thought it was time for an update.

I should be at a meeting, questioning Francis Maude MP, BUT we’re short-handed at The Storehouse today and I thought my time would be better spent here, helping out and talking to you.

There’s no need to get a calculator out; we know and can see we’re getting busier…..

More and more agencies and community groups are asking for our help; sometimes they need our vouchers/service for the first time or they don’t know who else to ask.

When I visit an agency for the first time, I’m always conscious that they need to know not just what we do BUT who we are; “A Christian, faith and church based charity” and stress, “we make no discrimination as to whom we feed. If they’re hungry get ‘em fed!”.

Yesterday I visited one of our distribution centres and met a lovely young man who they’ve been helping, he’s been found somewhere to live and had his food voucher however he needed something else….He’d arrived yesterday morning very angry, visibly distressed and frustrated; by the time he left though, at closing time, he had hope.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one minute saying everything was sorted out, far from it but because of the unconditional love he received not just on this visit but on the previous one as well, he felt Foodbank/church was a safe place to be even though he was feeling all the negative circumstances were piling in on him.

When he left yesterday; we’d contacted The Prince’s Trust to see about getting him on a ‘Team’ for 12 weeks, got together a shopping list for his bedsit; he hasn’t got a bed or anything to cook on amongst other basic items that you and I take for granted every day and we know we have a man’s cycle in the warehouse that’ll make his life a little easier.

Do any of the team that sat with him get paid? No.

Are their hearts as big as they are? Yes

Why do they do Foodbank? Because their faith and love for their neighbour compels them.

Whether you’re donating a single tin of food, a toothbrush or a quid….

Please accept our heartfelt thanks.

In March you donated a whopping 2½tonnes of food, but

we sent out 3½ tonnes to the distribution centres!

So, what does this mean to you, what am I asking of you?

1.      Please keep donating as the reserves of stock are getting smaller each week

2.      Act as a champion for Black Country Foodbank

a.      Schools, colleges and nurseries; get pupils, students, parents and children involved in collecting food, toiletries and sponsorship. http://www.blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk/supporters/ or http://www.blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk/supporters/financial-support/ if you want to give financially.

b.      At work; get permission to have a collecting box, offer to bring the donations to us, our address are here: http://www.blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk/get-help/

c.       Come and volunteer at our warehouse; our regular volunteers need a break now and again. Can you lift a can of beans, make a cup of tea, answer the ‘phone, put food on and take food off a shelf – YOU can volunteer! Are you available Mon – Fri between 10:00am & 2:00pm = YOU can volunteer! volunteers@blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk

d.      Talk about us and raise awareness at your place of worship; don’t know what to say come and see us. Spend some time at The Storehouse, you’ll have loads to speak to people about admin@blackcountryfoodbdank.org.uk to arrange a visit.

I’ll let you know how many people we’ve fed on your behalf during March asap

In the meantime, Thank You so much for all your help and support,

05 April 2011
Update on our young man we told you about:

he’s now got a bed, toaster & iron; Thank You Loaves & Fishes___

Junction 10 have organised a sofa etc___

BCFB found; hotplate, m/wave and kettle (all been PAT tested)

BCFB took over some of this today (wouldn’t fit in Esther) someone’s car was full including a bike.

He’s signing-up for Prince’s trust ‘Team’ and he’s had an emergency payment from Job Centre.

When I left him today he seemed a lot more relaxed. Phew!

Now we just pray……

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