As the election campaigning comes to an end it seems fitting to remind ourselves of the work of The Trussell Trust and Food Banks. It is now reported there are over 1 million foodbank users in the UK in 2015 – a real concern for us as the 5th richest country in the Europe. Here is Mark Ward’s story of the past few years’ progress in supporting people in the UK.
Even the best welfare system in the world will never be able to respond to urgent need (within hours). Foodbanks are a response to a situation ignored for too long or dealt with haphazardly. Unfortunately the welfare system in the UK is currently failing to meet deadlines to pay benefits in 10% of cases.
Trussell Trust is not against welfare reform but it must be fair and capable of being implemented without causing distress, currently not the case. On 11th July we took the rare step to issue a press release asking the government to respond (having privately tried to engage them without success). In 3 months there was a 20% increase in people using foodbanks due to benefits issues. Between April and June 2013 we fed 150000 people, 22000 more than in the WHOLE of the 2012/13 financial year.
This is how it works
- Local populations collect food either individually, as groups (Rotary) or through supermarket collections;
- The foodbank sorts and stores the non-perishable food;
- Local agencies refer people in crisis (doctor, school, CAB etc) and foodbank feeds for 3, 6 or 9 days and by negotiation thereafter but this is rare.
- A supply of food worth £25 (donated free) costs about £8 to deliver using the above system but can save the cost of prosecuting a desperate mother who tried to shoplift. It is a very efficient system, better than asking people to donate money to spend on food.
- Foodbanks are hubs of activity involving large numbers of volunteers both able bodied and disabled or struggling with addictions and other issues like long term unemployment.
To support foodbank Trussell Trust has to raise funds. Because we operate a not-for-profit franchise (each foodbank is a charity in its own right run by local people) our costs are much lower than if we operated a chain, but to do this work and work in Bulgaria next year will cost £2.7m.
So how do we generate this:
- Foodbanks pay a small contribution annually
- We apply for grants from private funding bodies
- We have a growing number of private donors
- We run events – see “Phil the Trolley” on the website or our fundraising pack.
- We have a corporate partnerships scheme which currently involves Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Mars, Kelloggs amongst others.
- We hold two national collection weekends at large stores (last one 5/6 July). Tesco produces all point of sale literature and some staff. Foodbanks supply volunteers and the food donated by the customers is uplifted for each foodbank by Tesco at 30% of its value. This is added to club cards so we can purchase anything we are short of.
Another partner builds diesel engines for Ford trucks made from parts supplied by hundreds of suppliers who they have to audit under ISO standards. They audit foodbanks annually as their contribution.
We also have a number of mentors at senior executive levels in large corporates who give us advice.
We trade through 8 retail outlets selling pre-used clothes, furniture, electrical goods, books, etc and sell books via Amazon, CDS and DVDs through Music Magpie and high ticket goods on eBay. All donations can be gift-aided which increases our income by £40000 a year. Our shops are community hubs for listening services etc and we have one specialist furniture store sited near Salisbury recycling centre which stops furniture going to landfill and has a small workshop attached to repair items which further provides skills training.
We have mutually “virtuous” projects with industry such as the “bobbin project” with Wilton Carpet Factory. They have bobbins with wool left on them from previous carpet production. They need empty bobbins to rewind but employing someone to strip them is expensive as is buying new ones. We collect the full bobbins, strip them “employing” people made “redundant” by Remploy and sell the wool to a felt-maker. So we all win, they get bobbins back, we sell wool and the people with mental health issues have affirming jobs in the company of other people improving social interactions and avoiding wasted days in front of the television.
How can Rotary help:
Foodbanks – volunteer at a supermarket collection day
Trussell Trust – would you like to raise some funds through an event? Meet for a tea party using “Tea for Trussell” and sample up to ten Twining teas or hold another fundraising event of your choice. Invite “Phil” to an event with a school; donate clothing or goods to us. We can make a single point collection.
You can find out the history of the trust at www.trusselltrust.org
Mark Ward is the Fundraising Manager for the Trussell Trust is married to Margaret and has three grown up children and a grandson called Jacob.
Mark started work for Barclays in Lincolnshire later moving to HSBC to a job based in Southampton as a Compliance Monitoring Manager of financial services product sales. In 2004 Mark built up a stonemasonry business with a local undertaker combining this with managing finances for a local builder. He discovered the Trust in 2005 and in 2008 felt called to work for them. For three years he ran Salisbury foodbank before forming a fundraising department.