Neighbourhood food bank in Northampton deals with 1,500 people in first year

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A food bank set up to serve a single Northampton ward has ended up helping 1,500 people on the breadline in just 12 months.

Spencer Bridge, a Trussell Trust foodbank, run by Elim Church, originally intended to serve just the Spencer area after families were knocking on the door of the church desperate for food.

However in recent months, they have joined forces with churches across the town to cover a wider area, including St Alban the Martyr, Abington Avenue URC and Emmanuel Church. In their first year of opening, Spencer Bridge Food Bank have fed over 1500 men, women and children in need in Northampton.

Anya Willis, director of Re:Store Northampton, said: “We are working together for the common goal, to demonstrate God’s love with no strings attached, and ultimately alleviate the burden of a financial crisis, reduce poverty and end the hidden hunger in this town.”

The charities work with over 25 churches across the town, and over 100 referral agencies.

There is a strict referral process, and criteria for both food banks and any household cannot access more than five parcels a year, to avoid dependency.

Not only do the food banks address food poverty, but also offer a range of social, economic and emotional support, such as money courses, an allotment, cookery, family groups and free refreshments at their drop-ins.

This has an impact on the mental and physical health of those in need, as well as increasing community cohesion and reducing crime. One referral agency even said a woman was able to avoid prostitution, as she could access a food parcel.

Food poverty has been on the rise across the UK over the last few years, and both charities have been established in response to the growing need.

Northampton Food Bank, part of local charity Re:Store Northampton has provided emergency food parcels for over 21,000 adults and children in Northampton over the past six years, in 2014 the figures doubled, highlighting the need for another food bank to open their doors.

Both charities rely on donations of food and essentials, volunteers and charitable funding or local fundraising, and are not supported financially by the local government. If you would like to get involved, make a donation or find out more, please get in touch with the food banks, check out their websites or follow them on Facebook & Twitter: www.restorenorthampton.org.uk and www.spencerbridge.foodbank.org.uk