SCBANorth Cotswold Foodbank 


In September 2011 Naunton Baptist Church in Gloucestershire were awarded a Mission Project Grant from Home Mission to enable them to set up the North Cotswold Foodbank. Here they tell us what that grant has enabled them to achieve.
Food bank“The North Cotswold Foodbank became operational in early December (in time for Christmas, as projected) to provide emergency food assistance for local households in financial difficulty. The initial area served was the North Cotswolds, with a population of c24,000. This has expanded to cover twice that rural population.

Since opening, support has been provided to 265 adults and children. This rate of provision is rising steadily, and is currently about double that forecast on the basis of national 2010 statistics. This confirms that poverty and need in the countryside are a reality, just as much as in urban locations where pockets of deprivation are more evident.

The rurality of this Foodbank is particularly unusual. Here, 57% of provision has been to low-income working households and 21% to benefit claimants: this is in striking contrast to national statistics for predominantly urban foodbanks, which see 29% low income and 51% benefit claimants. These statistics reflect the particular challenge for low-income households in rural locations, where living costs are high, and incomes low.

Five public-facing 'outlets' are successfully operating from churches in local small towns and 34 volunteers are formally enrolled (including some with special needs). There are 12 churches directly involved, drawn from every denomination represented in the area. Another dozen churches participate through food donations, as do schools and other organisations in the area. As a result of our experiences advice has been provided to other prospective foodbanks, notably those interested in a rural model.

For a tiny village church like Naunton to set up a district foodbank was a massive leap of faith and vision, and the support of our wider Baptist family was critical to help us to make that move. The award of the Home Mission grant at the outset of the project gave us the reassurance that set-up costs would be achievable – and that the project was feasible. We are so grateful for that practical support – plus the encouragement of Baptist brothers and sisters, and the knowledge that their prayers were with us as we embarked on this work for Christ.”
 
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