Rainham Foodbank Community Project
Today in the UK there are families and individuals struggling to put food on the table. For many people a sudden crisis, redundancy, benefit delay or even an unexpected bill – can mean going hungry with parents often having to make the stark choice between eating or heating their home. Statistics show that 13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK.
Rainham Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust‘s UK-wide network of over 200 foodbanks. Foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK.
· No money + no food = crisis.
Rainham Foodbank Project was seeded by RCCG-King of Kings Community Centre at the Mardyke Community Centre, South Street, Rainham, and is operated and managed by volunteers from several local Churches and members of the public. It also works together with grass root community organisations, statutory agencies, frontline care professionals, schools and businesses to provide emergency food and support to people.
Rainham Foodbank aims at restoring dignity to people which in turn helps to prevent family breakdown, housing loss, crime and mental health problems.
Birth of Rainham Foodbank:
We are created to love and relate. Unfortunately, many social ghettos now exist in our communities, which cause many problems. In an attempt to break the barriers through to the lonely, isolated and needy people in Rainham, Pastor Aloysius Peter of a local branch of The Redeemed Christian Church of God - King of Kings Community Centre and his team began door to door visits within the neighbourhood of the Mardyke Estate . Evidence of isolation, loneliness, hunger, rejection, frustrations and lack of the basic needs of life were glaringly observed.
Further research, Government statistics and the deprivation index confirmed that although Havering is ranked 26th out of 33rd Boroughs in London, there are pockets of real deprivation within the Borough. South Hornchurch (where the Mardyke Estate is located) is ranked the 3rd most deprived ward in Havering, in the top ten percent most deprived areas in England, with the unemployment rate higher than the Borough rate.
Starting a Foodbank seemed the most obvious way to communicate God’s love in action.
Taking Action to meet the needs:
Hunger is not just a third world problem. Today people across the UK are facing redundancy, illness, benefit delay, debt, domestic violence family breakdown and many other crises which mean that they cannot afford to provide food for their families. Even though we are a developed country, our Government is challenged to find a solution.
At Rainham Foodbank we believe everyone needs and deserves unconditional love irrespective of social status, or race.We have a sincere passion to see needs met within the community as a practical demonstration of the love of God.
Rainham Foodbank was opened for food distribution on 21st November, 2011 and over 450 people have been fed to date, from Rainham, Hornchurch, Dagenham, Elm Park etc. This community -driven project was officially launched by the Mayor of Havering Melvin Wallace, MP for Dagenham and Rainham- Jon Cruddas, Councillor Michael Deon Burton and the Project team on Thursday, 3rd May, 2012 at the Mardyke Community Centre, South St. Rainham.
Who we work with:
We are working with over thirty different Care Professionals, Churches, Schools, Businesses and Organisations. Rainham Foodbank has received unprecedented support from many of these.
Recently, Chafford School Rainham adopted Rainham Foodbank as their school project to cultivate the culture of care by the pupils. They held a Special Donation Day for the Project in which a huge amount of food was donated! It was so encouraging to see their enthusiasm for the project! They really set the pace for others to join in, and many organisations are now partnering with the foodbank to give hope to the hopeless in our communities.
How Foodbank works and who qualifies for help?
To receive food from the Foodbank, people in crisis should come along to the Foodbank with a voucher that they can exchange for food that is appropriate for the size of their family.
Three days worth of food (tinned and dried goods) are given out at a time.
The voucher is obtained from one of our many referral agents across the borough. These include Family Support workers at the local schools, Doctors, Local church ministers, Citizens Advice Bureau, Childrens Centres, Social Services etc. These Front-line professionals identify people in genuine need and issue them with a foodbank voucher.
All the food given out at the Foodbank is donated by individuals, schools, churches and businesses. ‘Supermarket collections’ are a major way that food can be donated. These are food drives held at supermarkets where volunteers give shoppers a ‘foodbank shopping list’ and ask them to buy an extra item or two for local people in crisis.
Volunteers sort food to check it is in date and pack it into boxes ready to be given to the people in need.
Clients at the Foodbank are welcomed with a smile and a cup of tea. They are offered prayer for their needs and also access to brochures and help on other related issues such as counselling, debt advice, housing support etc.
Rainham Foodbank Vision and Sustainability:
The main aim of Rainham Foodbank is to restore dignity through helping the client to re-discover hope and purpose in life, and to help them to re-engage with society.
We also add value by providing opportunities for people to become Foodbank volunteers who then benefit from work experience and training. We plan to help to tackle health issues arising from loneliness and isolation via a social drop in and free café.
A previous client, who now forms part of the volunteering team, encouraged us by saying that the non-judgmental conversation and practical advice she received was very helpful in dealing with her feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression.
Rainham Foodbank Challenges:
Recently, demand for food has increased rapidly. The type of crisis :- low income, unemployment, domestic violence and family food shortages seems to indicate a growing trend.
There is URGENT need for a LARGE Storage facility/Building for the Rainham Foodbank. (At present Harvest food is being donated and there is not enough space to store it!)
This would also enable us to open several times during the week. (Currently we open on Mon. evenings from 6pm to 7 30pm, at the Mardyke Community Centre.)and provide a relaxing place for a social drop in area.
Other challenges are having the mobility to deliver food in emergencies to those who cannot afford to come to the centre. There is also the continual challenge of sustaining the supply of food and having the agreement and support from Supermarkets (and enough volunteers) to arrange Supermarket collections.
Our greatest desire is to see transformation in the life of people, to serve God with everything within us, our time, resources etc. The establishment of Rainham Foodbank is demonstration of faith in action.
Together with the other Foodbanks established in Harold Hill and Collier Row, our desire is to meet needs all across the Borough of Havering and its environs.
Will you join with us in making a difference to the lives of those in need in our community? For information on how to be involved as a partner or volunteer, please visit our site: www.rainham.foodbank.org.uk
John Wesley said "DO ALL THE GOOD YOU CAN, BY ALL THE MEANS YOU CAN, IN ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN, IN ALL THE PLACES YOU CAN, AT ALL THE TIMES YOU CAN, TO ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN, AS LONG AS EVER YOU CAN."
Yesterday is history; our actions today can change the now and the future. We can make a difference!
"For I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in" (Matthew 25:35)