“If you need it, take it. If you can, donate it” – how Broxtowe is coming together during coronavirus
Broxtowe Labour have run their High Street Community Hub from a shop front on Chilwell Road, Beeston since January 2019. Although it is run by the local Labour Party, the Hub offers advice, support and friendship to all in the local community. It acts as a community meeting space and also hosts a non-partisan community food and toiletries larder which operates on the basis of, ‘If you need it take it. If you can, donate it’.
Blog by Colette, Broxtowe Labour Party
The larder was set up by members to support the most vulnerable Broxtowe community members. It helps those who struggle to afford to buy food for themselves and their families.
Ellie, our Campaigns Coordinator, worked tirelessly to get this project off the ground and applied for loads of grants and schemes to support the project.
The volunteers who run this service believe they are amongst only a handful of food banks offering a self-referral service. This enables the team to meet people’s needs immediately, without long and stressful delays. They also offer referrals to other groups and charities where needed for further support.
Being there for the community
The Hub has built a community of regular users who pop in for a cup of tea, support with their issues and assistance from the food bank. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, even more people are now struggling to find and afford food and basic household necessities. Loss of income, fewer supermarket discounts, illness and other problems have all hit the most vulnerable in society hardest. This has left many people struggling to cope. In times like these, we need the community to come together, and that’s exactly what Broxtowe Labour is doing.
I would like to thank you for my lovely food parcel yesterday, it was very much appreciated and very kind of you, I can’t believe how many things were included, you must be mind readers because only the other day I was saying that I fancied a tin of baked beans and sausage as I hadn’t had any for a long time, how random is that!
Meeting new challenges
In response to the increased demand and Government restrictions, the Broxtowe Labour team of volunteers have switched to a food parcel delivery service for vulnerable individuals and families. The role of the Hub also expanded to fill the demand. Previously, the larder could only offer non-perishable items, but thanks to a partnership with local greengrocers and generous donations they have also been able to begin offering fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and milk. We have just begun to work with local restaurants who are donating spare stock and ingredients.
Since mid-March, when the lockdown began, the team has made food parcel deliveries to over 330 households, providing food for over 700 people. These range from elderly people self-isolating, to single-parent families struggling to afford food on a reduced income, to disabled people currently unable to shop as normal due to the Coronavirus outbreak. One of our members, Shaun, is now up at 6am every morning to get stock from the cash and carry!
Thank you for the wonderful food parcel, delivered by cheerful people, who were so helpful. It made my day, especially seeing actual humans (at a safe distance of course!)
We’ve also just started up a partnership with the local fire station, who will deliver food parcels too – so we can be there for even more people. The team also provided reassurance to distant family members, with relatives in Broxtowe, who were unable to visit and support their loved ones in the current crisis.
Anyone can request a food parcel, service users get in touch via phone, social media or email and will usually receive a parcel of food within 12-24 hours. Each parcel is tailored to that person’s needs and we always aim to include treats such as cakes and biscuits – and sweets for children.
I’ve just received our food parcel and exactly what we need. My kids and I are so happy and grateful. Thank you to your wonderful team.
Working with the community to be there for everyone
The Hub team are working closely with Nottinghamshire County Council & Broxtowe Borough Council, as well as GPs, head teachers and other professionals to receive referrals and ensure all those that need our services can access them.
The Food Parcel Project is being delivered by a small team of seven volunteers, with support from other members. Some of the team are on furlough from their jobs, others are juggling family commitments and working from home alongside volunteering. Members are working hard to support the local community – coming together and connecting is what matters in times like these.
The team are also campaigning on issues such as the issues around the voucher scheme for free school meals and ensuring the most vulnerable people who use the service are receiving the correct statutory support.
The Hub food bank is not funded by outside organisations and instead relies on the generosity of members and the public to keep it stocked and running. The team have raised an incredible £7000 in the past month, thanks to successful crowdfunding efforts from local members and the general public. I’ve attached a document with some of the feedback we have received from service users. More information can be found on our Facebook page.