Tea and biscuits around a table is what greets those who come to Burnage Food Bank. With vouchers provided by those who know their need, reasons for turning up can be many. Benefits stopped or refused, wages delayed or debt are among them. Agencies providing vouchers include Churches, Social Services, Burnage Good Neighbours, Department of Work and Pensions and Southway. Some families whose children have free school meals struggle in school holidays.
They leave with a three day supply of goods, carefully prepared to be nutritious, for the number of people in the household, taking into account whether they have cooking facilities or not. It may include essential toiletries or a luxury if it has been donated.
Burnage Food Bank, started in October 2014 by Christians Together in Burnage recognising the need, is run by volunteers. Stephen, one volunteer regards it as “putting something back into the community”. Volunteer Claire adds “If you have time and money, give something back” and that is what she does. Another volunteer tries to help people find a long term solution to their current crisis.
Behind this provision are numerous volunteers headed up by an enthusiastic Margaret Witty. Food donations are received from boxes in local churches, the library, McColls and Burnage Tesco, where sometimes a special collection is made. Some donate when the centres are open on Tuesdays 12.30 – 2.30pm at St.Nicholas’ Hall or Fridays 3 – 5pm at St.Bernard’s Parish Rooms. Tony, another volunteer commends the generosity of Burnage people when he says “Burnage Tesco is in the top ten in the country” for donations.
Volunteer, Kath, says “The idea that we collect food donations from Burnage people and then distribute the food to Burnage people in emergency food crisis really appealed to me …a real grass roots community initiative.”