Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Foodbank in Barnet

I recieved the following communication. It's a sad demonstration of Cameron's Britain.

"Dear Councillor
There has been much publicity in the national media over the last two years about the need in Britain for foodbanks to provide support to families in crisis.  A group of people from various churches in New and High Barnet responded to this need by opening the Chipping Barnet  foodbank in the Salvation Army premises in Albert Road, New Barnet in November, 2012.  This foodbank was set up under the umbrella of the Trussell Trust. 
Since the foodbank opened we have fed a total of 180 people.  The clients have come from all areas of the borough but the majority were from Underhill, Colindale and East Barnet Wards.  At present only two departments of the Council hold vouchers; the Children’s Safeguarding Service and the Social Care Division Children’s services."

Some additional information was provided too.

"There are many reasons for a family to find itself with no food to eat – benefit delays, sudden unemployment or severe illnesses are but a few examples.  Chipping Barnet foodbank was set up in November last year to help those families that find themselves in sudden crisis.
The foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust, an organisation that pioneered foodbanks in this country.  They have provided us with resources to facilitate the set up and operation of the foodbank and will continue to support us in the future.
Situated in the Salvation Army premises in Albert Road, New Barnet, we have fed a total of 180 people (including children) in the area since November.. 
The foodbank is currently open from 10 am – 12 noon on Saturdays and will be open from 12 noon – 2 pm on Tuesdays from the 9th April.  When a client comes into the foodbank, they can sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea and a chat with a volunteer, if they wish, while their parcel is being made up.  We can also provide leaflets and information about charities and organisations that may be able to give help and guidance to people in difficult circumstances
Clients must present a voucher for a parcel that has been issued by a frontline professional (eg: social worker, doctor, community worker) who knows them and is familiar with their family circumstances.  Vouchers have been issued to 30 different agencies so far,  including the Children’s Services of Barnet Council, the Job Centre and various churches and doctor’s surgeries. The vouchers are numbered and must be signed by the professional.  A record of signatories is kept in the foodbank for referral and vouchers are checked before food parcels are made up.  This system allows the foodbank to help people in genuine need.  Clients may only have 3 vouchers throughout a year. 
All the food that is given out is non-perishable and is well within the sell-by date on the packaging.  Food is donated through churches, schools and from individuals.  Parcels are made up of a variety of foods, with the emphasis on a simple, staple diet.  The size of the parcel is dependent on the size of the family in need."