Packaging firm aim to help Swindon Foodbank with efficiency targets

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The ongoing squeeze on households in Swindon – combined with the impact of Universal Credit – has seen a marked increase in numbers using the towns’ Foodbank.

Whilst the generosity of Churches and Schools over the harvest festival period has seen shelves remained well stocked, the additional volume of both individuals and families using Swindon Foodbank has seen the charity focusing on how they can manage the extra workload.

Cher Smith, Manager at Swindon Foodbank, has said improving the way the Foodbank handles donations, organisation and distribution is becoming more of a priority – and that local businesses such as GWP Packaging in Cricklade are already helping them from an operational perspective.

“We are getting to a stage where we are having to look at ways of improving the efficiency of our operations to cope, and are being supported by local businesses in doing so.” Cher said.

“For example, we recently received a donation of handling boxes from local manufacturer GWP Packaging, which makes sorting the donations and getting food to the distribution centres so much easier.

“As we need to weigh in all donations, manage stock rotation, best before dates and keep an eye on overall stock levels, even small improvements can make a big difference and help our wonderful teams of volunteers be even more productive. This is in addition to ensuring we have enough funding to run the charity – the warehouse lease, running two vans, utilities and other overheads comes to £65,000 per year.

“The boxes make a real difference to us and I’d like to thank GWP for their help, and indeed all of the generous companies in Swindon who support us in varying ways.” she added.

Ruth Cook, Managing Director of GWP Packaging commented: “We have worked with Swindon Foodbank in one way or another for around 4 years now, and continue to be impressed with fantastic service they offer in what are frequently difficult conditions. We are happy and proud to support them in whatever ways we can, and would encourage others to do so as well”.

Besides improving efficiency, The Foodbank has other plans in the pipeline to maintain its service when faced with this increased demand.

Cher said: “We have just come out of a busy period during the summer holidays, where many families struggle to cope with the loss of free school meals over a 6 week period. However, the introduction of Universal Credit has been a huge problem for many too.

“We are seeing more and more people affected by this and who simply cannot cope – and the situation could get even worse.

“So whilst we already have seven distribution centres, we are planning to open an eighth in Abbey Meads at some stage in the future as this is an emerging area of concern.

“We also handled and distributed 47 tonnes of food in 2016, but 2017 is on course to be well over 50 tonnes. This is where donations such as the handling boxes from GWP can make a real difference.”

Cher added: “SBC have indicated that there is now a large increase in rent arrears due to Universal Credit – the level has increased with claimants on UC owing £600k which is 50% of the total of SBC rent arrears. And whilst people are in some cases able to get advance payments, this can then add to the spiral of debt that many find themselves in”.

“The result is more people in need of the Foodbanks’ services, and an increasing workload for all of the team here. So any help, no matter how big or small, really can make all the difference.

For more information or to donate to Swindon Foodbank, please visit www.swindon.foodbank.org.uk. For further information on GWP Packaging, please see www.gwp.co.uk/packaging

 

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