How time flies – last month the Woking Foodbank turned ten years old, project co-ordinator Alison Buckland writes.
This is an opportunity for us to celebrate the wonderful support we have had over the years from so many local people and organisations. However, at the same time we are somewhat conflicted about our anniversary; that it has been necessary for us to support more than 17,000 referrals of local families and individuals in crisis over the last decade is not something to celebrate.
Woking Foodbank opened its doors at The Lighthouse on January 14, 2014. At our first session, we had plenty of food, a team of helpers and one solitary visitor. We remained quiet for the first few weeks and wondered if we had got it wrong; maybe Woking didn’t need a foodbank? Now we provide an emergency three-day supply of food to approximately 50 to 60 individuals and families every week.
The foodbank has grown in other ways during these ten years. Our incredible volunteers have helped collect, sort and distribute over 450 tonnes of food in the past decade. We now distribute food from four locations; as well as The Lighthouse in Woking town centre, we operate from the Mascot Hub in Sheerwater, the Byfleet Methodist Church and The Salvation Army Church in Sythwood. We also have a large warehouse in Knaphill where we receive and sort donations.
The foodbank does not provide long-term support, but short-term emergency supplies for local people in crisis. We also provide support to our visitors beyond emergency food – money advice, referrals to other organisations and fuel support.
We have noticed a significant increase in visits from people who have never needed (or expected to need) to access emergency help before. The Trussell Trust, who support Woking Foodbank as well as hundreds of others in the UK, continues to push for a safety net to end the need for foodbanks. We hope not to be here in ten years’ time.
We would like to thank the Trussell Trust, The Lighthouse charity, Woking District Rotary Club, The Brookwood Christmas Campaign and all the businesses, churches and individuals who have financed us and donated food over the years. We could not operate without the dedication of our amazing volunteers, 15 of whom have been with us since our first year of opening.
If you would like to support us with food donations, please keep an eye on our shopping list which is updated weekly on our foodbank website, www.woking.foodbank.org.uk
We are looking for volunteers able to collect waste stock from supermarkets and cafes, plus a few strong individuals to support our driving team one morning a week – you may even get to drive our electric van.