Our latest entry for the St Luke’s CARES Community Awards has been submitted by the Leeds South & East Foodbank, the volunteer community group fighting hunger and poverty. For details of how YOUR community group can enter please click here. The deadline for entries is Wednesday 28 February 2018.
Leeds South and East Foodbank’s story begins when a group of church members met on Tuesday 30 April 2013 at the Belle Isle Family Centre. They were preparing to launch a Food Bank for families who were struggling and they invited any care professionals and anyone interested in volunteering to attend.
Today, almost 5 years on, the foodbank has a main office/warehouse based in Beeston and 12 distribution sites located in Driglington, Gildersome, Beeston, Middleton, Belle Isle, Hunslet, Rothwell, Burmantofts, Harehills, Seacroft, Gipton and Osmondthorpe. Nine distribution sites are based in churches, one in a community centre, one in a fire station and one in a Leeds City Council One-Stop Centre. Each site opens for 2 hours each week and there is a site open Monday to Friday.
Each of our distribution sites are staffed by unwaged volunteers, who provide a welcoming environment – a cup of tea and a biscuit and someone to talk to – for those people “in crisis”. We provide a 3-day emergency food parcel for those people who are struggling; people facing benefit delays (mainly in-work benefits) or benefit changes (from one benefit to another), low income (often due to zero hour contracts), benefit sanctions, homelessness, debt, domestic violence and a range of other issues. People can use our foodbanks three times in any six-month period (we are there to help people in crisis not to create dependency). Our volunteers also provide a signposting service, referring its clients to other organisations who can assist in helping those with long term issues.
The main site is open 3 days each week, again staffed by non-waged volunteers who donate time from as little as 3 hours to 3 days each week. Food donated by individuals, community groups and businesses is collected, weighed, sorted, shelved and later sent to the distribution sites to replenish the food that they have given out.
The demand for food has grown year-on-year. From May 2013 to March 2014 we fed 1,216 people. From April 2016 to March 2017 we fed 7,843 people. From March 2017 to January of this year we have so far fed 6,932 (with 2 months to go to the end of the financial year).
The one thing that the foodbank lacks is its own collection-delivery van. It therefore has to rent a van on a weekly basis. This is a huge drain on the foodbank’s financial resources (though it pays no wages, it costs about £1,400 a month to finance the foodbank – the foodbank relies on donations and its own events to raise this money). If the foodbank was to win any money it would be spent on financing the renting of the van.
For more information please check our website at: leedssouthandeast.foodbank.org.uk
This post was written by John Newbould using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.