Hangleton and West Blatchington Food Bank AGM

25th February 2016

Attendees

Colm Lennon, Zoe Smith, Glenda Galvin, Julie Smallwood, Emma Jarvis, Clare Hopkins, Ros Morris, Jacquie Barrett, Anna Wiggs, Father Daniel, Maritza Pereira, Mary Cornelius, Rosemary Backshall, Christy Bean, John Trounce, Patricia Cooke, Beryl Reeves, Carol Gander, Luke Fernandes, Yolana Fernandes, Nancy Holmes, Michael Barley, Lavinia Barley, Pat Challis, Peter Challis, Helen Granger- Bevan, Andrew Granger-Bevan, Terry Rogers, Patrick Callaghan, Penelope Leach, Kate Osborne, Gill Evans, Joan Hill, M Ormerod, S Higgs, Keith Bassant, Nikki Anjos, Kayla Ente, Lisa Perry

 

Apologies

Tania Sampson, Claire Johnson, Tony Janio, Linden Rennie, Emily Ballantyne, Marion Sheehan, Emily O’Brien, Peter Kyle, Mandy Gander, Catherine O’Shea, Wyn.

 

1. Welcome and Prayer

Father Daniel opened the meeting with a prayer.

 

  1. Introduction (Colm Lennon, Chair)

Colm read through the apologies then gave a brief outline of how the food bank started.

Approximately two years ago, I was having a conversation with Father Alistair, the new parish priest of St Georges. We were in the hall at the time and he was admiring the space. I explained that we had many hall rentals, and it generated a good income.

He asked if we used it for the benefit of the local community in any way.

When I told him that we didn’t really do much outside of our direct parish activities he seemed unimpressed. I told him I had a few ideas and he suggested I get on with it.

 

At the time, food banks were popping up all over Brighton, so I went and visited a couple to find out more. Purple Kitchen in Portslade and Bevendean community food bank. I was surprised at how busy they were. Purple Kitchen Foodbank, which is based in Portslade, informed me that they had lots of clients from the Hangleton area.

 

So, it struck me that a lot of people attending the food bank would not have money for transport and that they would have to walk with all their shopping from Portslade town hall to Hangleton. I would find that difficult without any shopping.

 

So, it was at this point the seed was sown. However, because we have always had such good links with St Peters, I approached Father Daniel and Zoe and told them of my plan. They were as excited as I was, not only to help those in need but to actually put the gospel message into action. The Lords last commandment was to love our neighbour as he had loved us. So, we created a steering group and was I in for a surprise.

I would have had the idea on Monday and opened the food bank on Tuesday.

 

Thankfully people like Helen Granger Bevan, and the rest of the steering group have more sense.

 

It took months to sort out the constitution, the rules, the uniform, the time and day, the deliveries, volunteers, but on the 10th of December 2014 we opened our doors. That was a great day. It was the day two Christian churches opened there doors and hearts to their local community.

 

We have lots of donors and lots of volunteers, both to whom we are so very grateful.

We have a coordinator, who each of the volunteers agrees, we would not be anywhere near were we are today or as organised without her.

 

  1. Coordinator Report (Zoe Smith)

Zoe explained her role in detail.

  • When we met early on to discuss forming the food bank it became clear that it would be important to have a Coordinator to oversee the operational aspects. I am the only paid person involved in the food bank, and I work 9 hours a week.

 

My main roles are:

 

Managing volunteers

  • I manage the rota’s, training, making sure that everyone is happy and clear with what they are doing. We currently have a pool of about 30 volunteers who do one or two shifts a month. Plus some volunteers aren’t able to get in during the day, so come in and help with stocktaking every 3 months. We have a true mixture of ages – young & old – volunteers from St Peter’s, St George’s, Sacred Heart and from the local community. We have supported one young man in doing enough volunteer hours to go for his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. And we have one volunteer who is a former foodbank client.

 

  • Ros will speak to us about her experience of being a volunteer. What has been wonderful to see over the past year is how volunteers from different churches and beyond have formed friendships and bonds through this shared work. We try and get together a couple of times a year socially to reinforce this.

Food Donations

  • The major source of our food is from Fareshare. Fareshare are a national charity who collect and distribute surplus and unwanted food from large supermarkets and wholesalers. We pay Fareshare £500 a year for a weekly delivery of food and I liaise with them on a weekly basis to ensure that we have enough fresh fruit and vegetables and other food items that we need.

 

  • One of my roles has been to build and establish places where the community can drop food donations. We are blessed to now have 14 donation points-and these include Waitrose, the One Stop Shop, Books Alive, local primary and secondary schools (Aldrington, West Blatch Primary, Cottesmore, Cardinal Newman), the Hangleton & Hove Women’s Guild and of course the local churches (St Peter’s, St George’s, Sacred Heart, and St Peter’s RC Church).

 

  • All the donations we receive from the community are valued and appreciated, but I must single out in particular Waitrose and the One Stop Shop. Waitrose provide us with unsold bread on a Tuesday evening. Being able to give our clients fresh bread on a Wednesday is wonderful. Also, Waitrose have a collection basket, which their customers fill regularly. We collect this every two weeks and these donations really do make a big difference to our levels of stock – especially during our very busy times. Waitrose also allowed us to do a food drive at their Hove store in August 2015. And this was a great way of connecting with their customers – and to share more information about what we do and why.

 

  • The managers of the One Stop Shop on Court Farm Road have been incredibly supportive. Not only do they have a basket for customers to donate, but 3 of their managers came and volunteered at the Food Bank working 6 shifts over 6 months. The experience they brought was invaluable.

 

  • We have also had several one-off donations of food from individuals, local businesses and schools, including a wonderful Christmas donation from every form group at Blatchington Mill Secondary School!

 

Working with referral agencies

  • The other part of my job is to liaise with referral agencies. Our referrals come from a variety sources. We have built an excellent relationship with the Health Visitors at the Hangleton Children’s Centre. We have received referrals from GP’s, Housing Departments, Local Discretionary Social Fund, Social Services, Hangleton Community Centre, Moneyadviceplus, Citizen’s Advice Bureau. This list is not exhaustive!

Clients

  • Our clients are referred to us by the referral agencies I have talked about and during the first 12 months that we were open we provided 407 food parcels to 72 households (175) people reached).   Our clients live locally with 72% living in the BN3 7, 8 and 5 postcodes. That is in the Hangleton, Knoll, West Blatchington and Aldrington basin postcodes.

 

Monitoring and evaluation of our service

  • Soon after opening, we realised that our service was making a difference but that we weren’t capturing what that difference was. With the help of Clare Hopkins from the Hangleton & Knoll Project we began to monitor and evaluate outcomes from our service. As a result we know that 94% of our clients feel that their health and well-being has improved as a result of visiting the food bank and that their ability to provide healthy meals to for themselves and their families has also improved by 94%. These forms have also given us the opportunity to capture some lovely quotations and feedback from clients about the effect visiting the Food Bank has had.

 

“ I have been treated nicely.  You are very kind.  I did need some help”

“I am very grateful for the all the help they have provided.  Thank you all.”

“We hope this service will continue”

“We are eating a hot meal every night without worrying.”

“Stops me from feeling weak…and helps with confidence and I am more alert on a day to day basis”

“It has enabled me to eat regularly and not to go without some days”

“ Since using the food bank it has made me more aware of eating healthily.  For example after tasting the delicious soup there, I have started making my own.”

“The attitude of the staff was incredible.  Before coming I was ashamed and worried about being judged.  I couldn’t have been more delighted with the welcome we received.”

“Without your food stuffs I would literally starve.” 

“The helpers are genuinely empathic and caring and the soup is always delicious”

 

Other things!

  • Recipe of the week – promoting healthy eating and encouraging our clients to cook from scratch.
  • Talks – schools, church groups, Hangleton & Knoll project.
  • Advice agencies – linking in with BHESCO, MIND, Library Service, Carers Centre, NHS Health Promotion Service
  • Peter Kyle (MP) visited and spent the afternoon helping the volunteers!
  • Media presence – website, facebook page, BBC Radio Sussex

 

Personal thanks

The past 18 months working towards the launch of the food bank and our subsequent opening have been incredibly rewarding and a real learning curve. I’ve enjoyed working and getting to know all the volunteers and building good relationships with our local shopkeepers, community organisations and advice agencies.

A huge thank you to the food bank committee who have supported and encouraged me throughout the year. And a particular thank you to Clare Hopkins from the Hangleton & Knoll project who has mentored me and been a great listening ear.

I hope that we can continue to develop and build on the hard work that has taken place and to carry on supporting those in need in our community.

  1. Hangleton and Knoll Project Report (Clare Hopkins, Community Worker)

Clare gave us a detailed overview of her role and partnership with the food bank.

Introduction to HKP –

  • Clare Hopkins- Community Development Worker- Hangleton and Knoll Project- resident – led charity supporting local people to meet their own needs via supporting community activity for 30+ years.
  • Green leaflet – Community Directory – good overview of the diversity of groups we support as a project – health and wellbeing/parks and wildlife/families and community action.
  • 50+ Leaflet – focused on activities and groups meeting the needs of Older People locally.

Partnership –

  • We were approached by Colm for some advice and support around setting up a Food bank as they had identified a clear need for something in the Hangleton and West Blatchington area.
  • I jumped at the chance as I had not been involved closely in a food bank before and thought it was a very exciting idea and wanted to help make it a reality.
  • I joined a small working group, which started to meet in June/July 2014 to get things started – reps from St Georges and St Peters.
  • Worked with them from scratch, great privilege to have been able to contribute my skills and knowledge as a CDW and learned a lot on the way too!
  • Have supported them with:
  • getting organised, setting up a committee with a constitution, bank account etc;
  • making sure their referral system is robust and the right people are being reached
  • advice about how to link into external agencies and advice providers.
  • Ideas for fundraising, local promotion and publicity
  • monitoring and evaluation of impact to people’s lives.
  • Attended committee meetings, supported decision making
  • The food bank is now run by an amazingly dedicated, passionate and skilled group of individuals (30 in total of volunteers and committee members), who have evolved into a smooth, well-oiled, unstoppable food bank machine!
  • Having access to food and being able to feed ourselves and our families well is a fundamental human need as we all know. Which is why this food bank exists – to meet this basic need.
  • The Dalai Lama said: Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
  • As well as providing food, I feel this food bank also embodies these necessities of love and compassion. The way that the team supports those that come through its doors with its warm, inclusive, non-judgmental approach and genuine desire to get people back on their feet and on with their lives.
  • HKP is proud at what you have all achieved to benefit local people and are committed to supporting you on your journey, through the next phase of becoming a Charity and beyond.
  • Onward and upwards!

 

  1. Volunteer Report (Ros Morris)

Ros talked about her experiences of being a Volunteer for the Food bank:

 

“When I first heard a food bank was opening up in my neighbourhood, I was saddened that such a service was needed and felt a calling. I went to a meeting and when they asked for committee members, I realised my hand was already in the air for the role of Vice-Chair! Things like this happen to me quite a lot and that’s why I’m up here now doing the thing I said I would never do and what I hate the most public speaking!’

People always say how ‘kind’ we are to volunteer and I guess I knew I was a kind person. But nothing prepared me to meet an army of the most caring and hardworking people I have met that volunteer at the food bank. Every week they turn up and give their time no matter what is going on in their lives, they make what is an empty hall when we arrive, into a warm welcoming place, full of laughter and life.

 

There are many roles in the food bank; We have our lovely ladies that run the kitchen, making sure everyone has a hot drink/ soup or even a light lunch. Making sure no one leaves hungry, thirsty or warmed from a mug of homemade soup.

 

Front of house, sit with the clients and listen. Complete a shopping list and try and offer help through the many services we are linked with or even just give them leaflets for the appropriate services. This is also where I volunteer. It is no easy task sometimes, seeing and hearing the desperation and frustration in people. Wanting to do so much more and having to tell yourself that what your doing is all you can.

 

Back of house – who aren’t seen but are very much the work horses. They pack all the shopping up and keep an eye on the stock which has to be date ordered. Those sell by dates are written so small and crates of beans are so very heavy! When we have our Fareshare delivery or donations we all run around like children at Christmas! fresh fruit and veg has never had such a welcome. Again unloading donations from schools, Waitrose, Churches, Books Alive and the general public is another reminder of kindness. Humans can be cruel but also so very kind.

 

I should of course mention Zoe at this point, she is really the most amazing person and without her, none of this would be possible. She is passionate about the role we play in the community and leads us all every week and is a wonderful example of selflessness.

 

Being a volunteer at the food bank has made me have a greater understanding of the wider community and why poverty happens even in Hove, I have learnt many new skills, made life long friends and gained some muscles. Thank you to all those that work so hard to make us such a success!

 

  1. Client Report

Unfortunately our client was unable to attend the meeting. Jacquie Barrett (committee member) and Zoe Smith read the following case study;

“Sam and Chris decided to move into a flat together in Hangleton with their dog. They were both in receipt of benefits due to long-term mental health conditions and physical disabilities. As they wanted to formally set up a couple they had to re-apply with that status for all their benefits. As part of this process they wanted to change their names in order to be able to identify as a gender-neutral couple.

Unfortunately this confused the benefits system and at one point one of them was without a National insurance number altogether. This resulted in all their benefits being completely stopped. There was then a significant delay in response from the Job centre regarding sorting out the problem and they were struggling to live on one-persons’ benefit for quite a while.

Not having enough money to eat properly made Chris in particular very ill with a negative impact on mental health, one time resulting in being admitted to Mill View Hospital. The stress was so intense that Sam and Chris did not feel able to leave the house and participate in normal everyday life. They saw the A-Board outside St Georges advertising the Food Bank, which is just across the road from where they live, and came in and asked for a referral.

“Sam and Chris found it very difficult to come to the food bank at first, they felt ashamed and that they should be able to manage. They kept it quiet from their friends and neighbours.

When they first accessed the Food Bank, they spoke to Zoe, the Food Bank Co-ordinator about their circumstances and why they needed help. They then talked through a’ shopping list’ of possible foods and toiletries they would like in their food parcels with a member of the Volunteer team. They were served teas, coffees, soup and biscuits and generally put at ease. The Volunteer also talked to them about other advice and support available, community learning opportunities, as well as signposting to local community groups and activities.

Sam and Chris were a bit wary of the church aspect of the food bank at first but the warm welcome they received swiftly put them at ease. They felt accepted for who they were, and appreciated the ‘lighter touch’ Christian approach, no pressures or expectations. They have previously experienced religion as a barrier for them attending things due to not conforming to traditional church values about lifestyle and relationship choices.

Sam and Chris have really enjoyed the social aspect of coming to the food bank, getting to know new people and seeing lots of friendly faces. Every visit has felt easier. There has been continuity as they have seen the same person every time.

The building is wheel chair accessible and easy to get to as they live very close by”

Outcomes:

Sam and Chris felt that seeing the food bank sign and being able to walk in off the street and make contact was ‘a real God-send’ as they were really struggling at that time. To receive weekly food parcels from the Food bank enabled them to eat well during a very stressful time.

Being provided with weekly food parcels, which includes fruit and vegetables, has improved Sam and Chris’s diet and capacity   to cook proper balanced meals. The store cupboard dry goods has given them more choice and made more filling meals and made food go further. They no longer go hungry.

Having Diabetes has provided a particular challenge for Sam, as eating the right foods and maintaining blood sugar levels is crucial. Due to feeling hungry it has been tempting to eat anything that was available, and feeling ill as a result. They felt if they could only eat rubbish, why bother caring about themselves. Now they both feel cared for and feel more motivated to eat well, manage their health conditions better and take care of themselves. As well as receiving the food parcels, the ‘amazingly delicious and healthy soup each week’ was a great extra benefit which has also helped them to feel nurtured.‘

The fresh fruit and veg were a lifesaver as it is so expensive to buy. We came as had a massive problem with our benefits so the opportunity to stock our cupboards without worry was a godsend”.

Sam and Chris’s stress levels have been significantly reduced as they have felt very vulnerable not being able to afford to eat properly. They now feel more able to go out and meet people and do things like go to the park with the dog.

Due to chronic sleep problems Chris often woke up hungry at nighttime.   Anxiety about this has been reduced as a result of knowing there is always food available day or night.

Sam and Chris have more mental and physical stamina due to eating properly and the ability to manage day-to-day tasks and those requiring concentration. They felt that attending the food bank has had a BIG POSITIVE IMPACT on their overall health and wellbeing.

Sam and Chris felt very isolated from the local community with few local contacts. They feel that making local connections via the Food Bank has been very important for their mental health and wellbeing. They have attended the St Peters weekly coffee morning drop-in and Summer Fete and feel more integrated and supported as a result of this.

‘The attitude of the staff was incredible. Before coming we were ashamed and worried about being judged. We could not have been more delighted by the welcome we received.’

Sam and Chris feel like, ‘our community is really looking after us’, as they now bump into familiar faces when they are out and about in the local neighbourhood.

Being given unexpected treats in the food parcels such as chocolate and biscuits has felt, ‘good for the soul’. They have, ‘felt more like a human-being ‘, and as it is not just their basic food needs being met. They feel nurtured as whole people. Receiving toiletries and basic household goods has helped with this too.

They now Sam and Chris feel able to think, ‘what is next and how can we help the Food Bank?’ . They are keen to give something back, attend Fundraising events where possible and spread the word through their friends.

Whilst attending the food bank Sam and Chris have been able to pick up leaflets for advice services and other local community groups and activities such as HAKIT. They are looking into accessing a computer course and feel inspired and able to investigate other learning opportunities.

Sam and Chris have also been able to link in with the Community Development Worker at the Hangleton and Knoll project who has provided them with contacts for Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard, the LGBT Health Inclusion Project and local LGBT groups, activities and information.

7. Treasurer Report (Julie Smallwood)

It is with great pleasure that I stand here as Treasurer of the food bank to report at its very first AGM. Our first financial year ended on 30 November 2015 and I will be confirming our financial position up to this date.

For the most part we have been in a satisfactory financial place but along the way we have had times when our position has been of great concern to the committee. However, when we reached out and asked for financial help we have been blessed with funds from many and varied sources. It goes without saying that the food donations are central to our operation but without funds we could not continue to help those in need.

We finished up the year with a credit balance of £921, which the committee and I are very pleased to report.

Our funds came from 3 main sources; Donations, which total £2896, Fundraising, which total £2217, and we received one grant of £365. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have contributed to this.

Firstly we are eternally grateful to St Peters and St Georges and associated churches, we have received massive support via fundraising, donations both collectively and from individuals. I would, therefore, like to thank those individuals and those who have organised fundraising events, which have been varied, and many and the people who have supported them in aid of the food bank. The total funds received from these collective events being £3084. We have received 28 individual personal donations over the year; to all of you we are very grateful which total £1202.

In October we were facing a potential financial crisis and we reached out in our Harvest Leaflet for individuals who felt they could help us by setting up a monthly standing order to the Food Bank. I am really delighted to announce that we now have 14 monthly standing orders coming in to the bank account, which total £230pm. This is just fantastic and I would like to thank all of those and you know who you are for this amazing ongoing commitment and support, it really has been a turning point in our financial stability.

I would like to thank Waitrose who donated £302 from their community matters programme, which we were nominated to benefit from in August.

I would like to thank the Arabellas who donated £208.92 from their fundraising event. As I said we received one grant in this financial year for £364 and I would like to thank the Hangleton and Knoll Project for this healthy neighbourhood fund grant.

We had an additional grant, which is not within the figures I have quoted so far. This came from Foresters by way of a credit card to spend £2500, we have spent most of that money on supplies for the Food Bank which have been distributed to our clients and we have a balance of £623 left still to spend. Thank you Foresters, your help has enabled us to buy specific supplies that we lacked but were very much needed by our clients.

Our costs come under three categories;

  • Fareshare
  • Co-ordinator services
  • Sundry expenses, i.e. supplies and set up costs.

I would like to finish by thanking you all again, we are truly grateful on behalf of all our food bank clients, for your continued support.

 

  1. Charity Progress (Colm Lennon)

We are looking towards moving from a constituted group and moving to charitable status. Here are a couple of reasons why it would be beneficial. Colm went through slides…..

 

However we can’t vote this tonight as we needed by the charity commission rules and regulations to give more notice to the members. However, with a show of hands, who agrees that moving to charity status would be in the interests of the food bank.

We will need to organise an extra meeting at some stage to vote this in, but it is worth our while it would seem to register our interest with the charity commission.

 

  1. Q&A

No questions were raised.

 

 

  1. Closing Prayer

Father Daniel closed the meeting with a prayer.