The Warrington foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust, which offers support and guidance for groups looking to start their own foodbanks. Technically it is a Christian organisation, but that's not a requirement for volunteers or recipients. I'm very uncomfortable with charity that is offered with conditions, whether that be in the form of religious lectures or required beliefs - I can happily say that I've never seen anything to concern me at the Foodbank. The volunteers I've met simply try to offer help and kindness without judgement.
There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about how the Foodbank works. People can't just walk in off the street for a food parcel. Instead red vouchers are given out by places like Job Centres, Sure Start and CAB, to people they know to be in a crisis situation. These vouchers are intended to be a stop gap for people trapped in limbo while waiting for long term help. Though I obviously can't give you any specific examples, many people have been effected by the government abolishing crisis loans, the new benefit sanctions and the recent benefit changes.
When people arrive at the Foodbank they hand over their red voucher card to one of the volunteers and are invited to sit down at one of the tables. We offer them a drink and some biscuits and someone sits down to chat with them, while other volunteers assemble their food parcel.
Off the top of my head, a single person may get:
- A small box of cereal
- 2 cans soup
- 2 cans baked beans
- 2 cans of tomatoes or pasta sauce
- 2 cans of meat (including things like cans of curry)
- 1 can of fish
- 2 small cans of vegetables
- 2 small cans of fruit
- 1 package of Jelly or Angel Delight
- 1 pack of rice or pasta
- 500g of Sugar
- Tea or Coffee
- 1 small pack of biscuits
- 1 ltr milk
- 1 ltr of juice
But I try to take comfort in that we ourselves and the Trussel Trust are acting as witnesses to these hardships. We hear people's stories and the Trussel Trust publishes statistics that will hopefully hold the government to account in the future.