Swindon’s new food bank is celebrating its first birthday and thanks to Swindon Borough Council’s quick and decisive support is now a “stable functional business” which with continuing day to day support from the community, will operate into the future.
In May 2018 the volunteers at Swindon Food bank were shocked to be told that it would be closing as support from the Trussell Trust (a national food bank franchise) was being withdrawn and the charity operating the food bank felt unable to continue. Within days a group of volunteers formed a new organisation, Swindon Food Collective (SFC), to take over the operation of the food bank. A grant of £51k from SBC allowed SFC to buy the 2 vans from the previous charity; essential to collecting and distributing food. This money, along with the continued support of our 65 plus volunteers, allowed SFC to continue operations uninterrupted supporting those in difficulty in the Swindon and District area.
Nearly a year on and the organisation has been granted Charity Status by the Charity Commission, has directly fed 5200 people (28% of which were children), and has retained virtually all its volunteers.
Andrew Hill, Social Inclusion & Enterprise Manager at Swindon Borough Council said “My direct involvement as an advisor to the Swindon Food Collective board will shortly come to an end. I am glad that SBC was able to step in and stabilise a dire situation and I wish Swindon Food Collective every success for the future”.
Clare Collier from Swindon Food Collective said “We are eternally grateful to Swindon Borough Council for their rapid interim support. We now need around £35k per year to operate. We had nothing until SBC stepped in and saved the operation. They have given us the opportunity to get ourselves set straight and we are now ready to operate relying on support from personal donors, church & school collections, and support from local businesses and charity events. I would like to thank Andrew for his help and support over the last year and Swindon Borough Council for their faith in the viability of and need for our food bank.”
But Dr Collier said the charity still needs more help “We need sponsors and donors to help with running costs, as well as volunteers to help with fundraising and working in our distribution centres especially at St Peters in Penhill and St Johns in Park South and of course, we always need food donations which can be made at most of the town’s major supermarkets and other local outlets.”
Further to this Dr Collier added, “We also need help running the Charity. We have recently started a membership scheme. Members will have voting rights to decide how the Charity is run and trustees will be nominated from the membership. Details of how to join are on our website.”
Cllr Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Commercialisation, Education and Skills, concluded: “Volunteers across Swindon provide extremely valuable services to help people in need. As a Council we provide a range of services to help people but we can’t do it all alone. Organisations like the Swindon Food Collective work in partnership with the Council to make sure we all play our part in helping each other across the town. I am grateful to all of the volunteers and all the people who make generous donations.”