Emma from the Trussell Trust tells the Preloved community about the essential work the charity do in order to help UK residents that face going hungry. Not only do the charity run foodbanks across the country, they also have a social enterprise scheme where the members upcycle, restore and repair donated goods. The scheme is designed to support volunteers with mental, social, physical and learning difficulties and also to raise funds for the trust.
Veterinary nurse Marcella never expected that she would face going hungry, but when her welfare payment was delayed after a serious operation due to a chronic spinal condition, she was referred to her local foodbank for an emergency food parcel. She was nervous and embarrassed before she stepped in the door, but that soon changed:
‘I felt a bit ashamed at not being able to support myself but they took the pressure off. The foodbank really helped and they were there for me in every way. The foodbank gave me faith that there are people who understand and who you can trust. They made me feel comfortable and reassured’.
Marcella is far from the only person in the UK who has hit crisis and been unable to afford putting food on the table. In 2014-15, 1,084,604 people across the UK received three days’ emergency food from a Trussell Trust foodbank. Of this number, almost 400,000 were children. Everyone who comes to one of the 420+ foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network is referred by a frontline professional or organization, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, health worker or children’s centre. Everyone referred is provided with immediate practical help in the form of three days’ emergency food, and with hope, through the emotional support and additional services offered by the foodbank which help people to break out of their crisis.
None of this could be done without an army of dedicated volunteers. Thousands of volunteers work tirelessly up and down the country in foodbanks to greet people in crisis with a listening ear, sort donated food for distribution, and help at foodbank supermarket collections.
This skilled, creative group of individuals determined to help people in their community are also very involved with our social enterprise projects, through which The Trussell Trust finds new, innovative ways to financially support itself whilst benefiting the local community. Social enterprises currently consist of 13 community shops and a recycling centre. At the centre, a team of volunteers work to restore all sorts of donated goods. They give items a second life so they can raise money for The Trussell Trust to continue its work to stop UK hunger.
From restored furniture and repaired bicycles, to upcycled household items – such as vintage tea plates transformed into three tier cake stands and old cutlery made into coat hooks – there’s a whole world of creative community enterprise projects that raise funds and value people of all abilities in a structured, safe environment.
Emma, for example, has been involved in the jewellery-making workshops that create items to sell in Trussell Trust community shops. Kim, the Police Community Affairs Officer who works in partnership with The Trussell Trust to run the free jewellery class, said,
‘One lady, Emma, had not done anything on her own for nine years, not even going to the shops. Emma’s friend took her to beading class and then one week we couldn’t believe it; Emma came on her own. These small steps made a big difference. The group bridges the gap between people who would not normally interact, stigmas are broken down, and people learn new ways to live.’
Emma’s jewellery is valuable for so many reasons. It helps her to develop new skills in a secure place where she feels comfortable, and it also helps The Trussell Trust and its network of foodbanks to provide emergency support to people like Marcella, caught in crisis until she was referred to the foodbank.
The people in Marcella’s community worked in solidarity to ensure that when Marcella needed support, she was not alone. Volunteers across the country are already committing time, money and food to stem the tide of food poverty in their local area. To stop UK hunger we all need to be in this together. Will you join the fight against food poverty?
If you want to join your community in making a difference to people like Marcella who are going hungry today, you can donate or volunteer at your local Trussell Trust foodbank:http://www.trusselltrust.org/map.
Find out more about the work we do, and our social enterprises, at www.trusselltrust.org.