Foodbank Faces Shock Charge - Then Receives Surprise Donation
A Baptist church-based foodbank received a significant donation after news it faced a hefty council administration fee was featured in the local press
Chelwood Foodbank, based at Chelwood Baptist Church, was charged more than £800 from Stockport Council to sign-off a storage room it had built.
A few for a building regulation inspection must be charged by law. The fee was more than double had been expected because the Council categorised the room as an assembly room rather than a storage room.
Although the council stated the fees had been agreed by Greater Manchester councils, the foodbank's dilemma was prominently featured across the local press last week.
The story revealed the storage room had been built to help supply the huge demand the foodbank was experiencing: after launching six months ago, it is now feeding 30 families each week and is staffed by around 30 volunteers.
The storage room was only built thanks to a donation of £12,000 from an anonymous benefactor.
As a result of the press coverage another benefactor - unconnected to the church and from another part of Manchester - stepped forward to settle the bill.
'We couldn't believe the amount we were being charged, it was a shock,' said minister the Revd Steve Hough. 'The press got hold of it, and we've had a lot of support, including from local councillors and the local MP. It's amazing - we didn't know this woman - she said she read the story and wanted to help us.
'The person who helped us build the storage room told us he felt moved by God to support us. It's a great testimony to tell people.'
Although officially open three days a week, the foodbank is effectively staffed throughout as people either come by to donate food or arrive with their referral letters. Steve said the foodbank had had a 'huge impact' on the church itself. It has a small membership of around 30, is based next to an area with high indicators of social deprivation, and is supported by Home Mission funding. The church is now in discussions to open a Christians Against Poverty centre.
'It's had a huge impact in a positive way,' said Steve. 'A year ago we decided to refurbish the building and make it much more welcoming.
'Now we are seeing people coming in droves. The scale and speed of the growth of the foodbank has amazed us. I think it's all connected. We're still coming to terms with it - where it's going, what it means.
'But what we keep on saying is that we're living out Matthew 5 (In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.)
'This is all part of being the gospel in a practical way.'