The quote in the picture is from the Trussell Trust website, however this year we have supported families to ensure they have a Christmas day. The screen shots are just some of the text we have received.
On the lead up to December volunteers, staff and our advisors were getting more and more concerned to hear that many families and people on their own just would not be able to afford to have decorations, a tree, presents for the children or even just a Christmas dinner.
Over the last few weeks we have been working with the local manager of CAP – Christians Against Poverty UK who is located at Hope Church Wigston, our advisors from our partners at Helping Hands Advice Centre who having been working with families on their income and expenditure and who they identified as no way could they afford Christmas. Well they can this year!
Not only have we been able to provide food parcels, but after analysing the income and expenditure spreadsheets, we also gave each family enough store vouchers to buy a Christmas tree, decorations, presents for their children and enough food to have a lovely Christmas dinner. CAP manager even went and sourced some presents that parents told us would make their children so happy to have something to open on Christmas day.
Today we were also able to have our lunch hub Christmas dinner thanks to the generosity of Next HQ restaurant in Enderby. Thank you so much for your support over the last year which has enabled us to host 40 hot lunches every Friday.
Our warehouse has been able to receive, sort and redistribute over 300 tonnes of food and other essential items, supporting 17 other food banks across the Leicestershire area. Our logistics have ensured no food bank in the network has run short of food, and no one seeking help at these food banks has gone away disappointed.
We have worked with companies on their corporate social responsibility, hosting staff volunteering days packing and sorting emergency parcels as well as giving presentations on why food banks are currently needed in a rich country such as ours.
We have trained and re-trained over 40 referral agencies to ensure people have somewhere to turn when they experience difficulties. We have been visited by schools and other organisations who wanted to understand food poverty and the drivers behind financial hardship so that they could be part of the solution.
Our partnership with Helping Hands Advice Centre has enabled us to employee 6 specialist benefit and debt advisors. The have worked hard to ensure people are supported and encouraged back to a life where they do not need to rely on emergency food parcels.
We have opened two new hubs serving the community in areas where there was little support. We will be opening more hubs in villages and rural areas where bus and transport makes it difficult for people to get help.
We have developed partnerships with other organisations offering support so that we can inform people of where to go for other interventions that will help them cope with issues they are facing, and we are collating information to challenge poor practice and discriminative practices that blight and disadvantage people from having a life that others take for granted.
This would not happen unless………
We have received extremely generous donations from our corporate donors such as Watches of Switzerland Official and Market Harborough Building Society and the generous public who have set up monthly direct debits and individuals and other company’s who have donated through our web page. Without this financial support we could not operate on the scale that we do and meet the need dictated by the cost of living and rising debt we all face. Just to put it into perspective, we use a packing list for each emergency parcel to ensure at least 3 days worth of breakfasts, lunch and teas. However donations of food and other essential items do not provide enough on there own so we have to bulk buy the items that are missing close to £15,000 per month! This is on top of our running and core costs that the charity needs to serve our community. We can not do this without this financial support so our thanks goes out to you all for ensuring we can try to make things better for our community.
No one should have to use a food bank, but whilst there are people who cant even afford to have a Christmas day, put up a few decorations, have a small tree and especially whilst parents cant afford to buy a gift to ensure a child has something to unwrap on the day, we will be here supporting our community and ensuring your generosity and love is passed on.
Thank you and Merry Christmas and wishing you all a very hopeful new year!