From a Women's Refuge to Safety & Sanctuary
One lady, with two young children, was referred to us following a stay in a women's refuge. She had nothing. We supported her by providing food parcels and linking her with other agencies who could provide other practical help.
These included: Acts435 for funds to purchase household goods, bedding and clothes for her children; The Wardrobe Foundation for good quality women's clothing; and Wimborne Laptop Share for a laptop and I-pad for the children's home schooling. The family also received a luxury hamper, vouchers and presents at Christmas.
"The support I received from Sharon and the WFB team goes beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. It’s been more than being able to provide food for my children whilst maintaining bills and our home.
They helped by lending an ear when I need someone to talk to. They have shown me pathways to receive additional support for myself... [and] my children. They put me in touch with organisations that helped me with budgeting, bills, childcare, activities and so much more. They hold events that have given me the chance to meet new people and enable me to leave my home without feeling anxious... I know that they are always there if I need help.
I know that I don’t need to become isolated with worry and that I have a network of people willing to help me where I don’t feel afraid to ask."
We are very passionate about giving a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables alongside our food parcels. Over 3,000 people have benefitted from the fresh fruit, vegetables and bread we have distributed throughout the year. Meaning that those who come to the Food Bank are able to cook fresh, healthy, nutritious meals with a mixture of long life and fresh ingredients.
A special thank you to Waitrose and all Coops in Wimborne for donating fresh food, their donation boxes for food items and assistance with grants for various projects.
Roast in a Bag
At Easter we gave out 30 Roast in a Bags which provided families with a 2 course Easter lunch. Each bag contained a voucher for a local supermarket to buy a fresh chicken, as well as potatoes and fresh vegetables, stuffing, gravy, bread sauce and yorkshire pudding mix as well as a dessert!
We have volunteer teams who deliver food parcels twice a week to families in Wimborne and Ferndown who are shielding or unable to physically get to the Food Bank.
Before delivering the parcels we have conversations with clients over the phone to ensure the parcel is tailored to their specific requirements i.e. any dietary requirements or health conditions are taken in to account and ensuring any needed children's toiletries, feminine hygiene products or pet food are included.
During 2020 we were blessed to work with the Friendly Food Club who created and supplied their amazing weekly Cook Boxes to enable our clients to make fresh, healthy recipes.
Some of the recipes included vegetable pasta bake, homemade pizzas, fish cakes and apple crumble. These were fantastic as it provided families with an additional meal as well as encouraging them to try recipes and ingredients that they might never have tried. The whole family can get involved and improve their cooking skills!
We received some brilliant photos of the creations and they were very much appreciated by all! These inspired us to create our own Cook Bags which we have been giving out during 2021.
School Holiday Parcels
During the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays we work with seven local schools to provide School Holiday Parcels for those in receipt of free School Meals and families who are on low income.
In 2020 we gave out over 200 School Holiday Parcels - these are a huge help for families who are struggling financially. Finding money for an additional meal throughout the school holidays can be extremely difficult, especially when families are already finding it hard to make ends meet.
In addition to these parcels we give a selection of items specifically with children in mind such as sandwich fillings, jellies, drinks, crisps and snacks along with a bag of fresh food.
Last Christmas thanks to the kindness and generosity of two private donors and our supporters we were able to give out 75 Luxury Christmas Hampers which included Christmas presents, chocolate selection packs and a Gulliver’s Bookshop voucher to every adult and child.
In addition to these we also give out reading, colouring and craft activity packs for the children of families that come to us.
During 2020 we applied for 50 grants for our clients through Acts435, a Christian charity that brings immediate help to people in financial need. It works by matching up those who want to give with those in need and is managed through a network of churches and local charities. Through this scheme we have purchased clients much needed appliances, furniture, flooring and clothes.
We also started working with The Wardrobe Foundation, a social enterprise which work with charities and organisations to provide a gift of clothes to women in need. This is a much needed service and has made a huge difference to our clients.
Our Amazing Team
We have a large, experienced and dedicated team of 45 amazing volunteers who perform various tasks such as: collecting food donations and fresh food from our local supermarkets; sorting, dating and rotating stock; creating and delivering food parcels; welcoming and chatting to our clients to see if they require any additional support and providing money advice.
We could not do what we do without all of these amazing and passionate people who give their time, energy and enthusiasm each week to help improve lives.
Story 2: From Childbirth and Redundancy to a Growing Family and New Job!
The local Children's Centre referred a couple who had just had their third child (3 days old at the time). An error had been made with Maternity Pay and the father had recently been made redundant with no Redundancy Pay, so they had nothing.
We helped with food parcels, nappies, baby milk and two Acts435 grant for children's clothes and storage and kitchen utensils. A referral was made to The Wardrobe Foundation for work clothes, as she had to return to work despite her child only being 1 month old. The family were able to celebrate Christmas with the Luxury Christmas Hamper, vouchers and Christmas presents for the whole family that we provided.
2020 certainly had its challenges for us all but I am proud that despite these we remained open all year. We served every client despite seeing a 53% increase in referrals and even added to the services that we offer.
We did have to modify the way we worked and I would like to thank our wonderful team of volunteers for their patience, understanding and adaptability with the many changes that we needed to put in place.
The fantastic support that the Food Bank receives from volunteers, local schools, churches, organisations, businesses, families and individuals is overwhelming and hugely appreciated. This support is received via gifts of food and toiletries, lots of fabulous fundraising activities and in financial donations. All of these are a huge help and appreciated by the Food Bank and our clients.
It is a privilege to work with so many different agencies and services throughout Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and Dorset to support our local community.
In 2021, as lockdown eases, we are looking forward to fully opening up the Food Bank sessions so we can invite clients in for a hot drink. We will also recommence our Community Lunches and continue developing our CMA (Community Money Advice) Team.
Sharon Keenan, Manager & Rachel Plowman, Deputy Manager and Team