Diocese of Portsmouth

    Our donations to Foodbank will help those in need

    14 Feb. 2024

    WHEN Kirsty* first came to Portsmouth Foodbank four years ago, she had just come out of an abusive relationship and her four children were in foster care.

    She was desperate, not just for regular food but for emotional support and building confidence in herself. Volunteers offered her one-to-one support, which reduced her anxiety and restored some self-esteem.

    Kirsty went on to volunteer herself at the Foodbank, helping to run one of the support groups, and was baptised at King’s Church. She’s now having overnight visits from her eldest daughter and supervised contact with two of her other children.

    For Debbie Smith, who runs the Foodbank support work, it shows how their role involves much more than just giving food to those in need.

    “Kirsty was in a bad place emotionally,” she said. “She was lonely, felt she had no purpose and thought no one liked her. I did some one-to-one sessions with her and her anxiety reduced and her confidence was built up. She became a volunteer receptionist for the Foodbank, and used to work with the kids in a craft group that we ran for mums.

    “She also became one of the volunteers on our church’s welcome team and was baptised by immersion on Easter Sunday, less than a year after we first saw her. She’s now so much more confident. She doesn’t need food from us any more, and she is seeing her children.

    “We try to look at the whole person, so it’s about building a relationship and trying to help them with other needs they have. And we have lots of different groups they can join, if that’s what they need.”

    Kirsty’s story is one of many from Portsmouth Foodbank, which will receive some of the funds raised as part of the Bishop’s Lent Appeal in 2024. Half of your donations will go to Tearfund’s Middle East Emergency Appeal, helping those affected by the humanitarian crisis created by the conflict in Israel and Gaza. And half will go to the work of the Trussell Trust, which runs Foodbanks across our diocese.

    Derek* is another person who has benefitted from Portsmouth Foodbank. He is now in his 70s, but has worked and travelled across the world. He’s now living in emergency housing after being made homeless. He has been collecting food since last August.

    “I was living with a friend in Havant, but I had to leave his house,” he said. “My emergency housing only has a microwave, so I can’t do much with fresh vegetables. But without the Foodbank here, I would be stuck.”

    In Portsmouth, the main Trussell Trust Foodbank is at King’s Church, with subsidiary Foodbanks at Paulsgrove Baptist Church and All Saints Church in Commercial Road. Between them, they feed around 250 people each week, including single people and families. Demand keeps going up, and they see around 30 new clients each week.

    Individuals and families are given packages including tinned meat, beans, soup and tomatoes, plus pasta, milk, tea bags and cereal. It’s designed to be enough to feed them for three days, and to be nutritionally balanced. They rely on donations from the public and contributions from supermarkets.

    The church has a warehouse full of food that has been bought or donated. It is sorted into different crates, for single people, couples, families of three or four, and families of five and above. Clients are able to sit in a café created inside the church while their packages are being put together, and staff and volunteers can talk through any other issues they face.

    Foodbank manager Leanne James with some of the donations
    Foodbank manager Leanne James with some of the donations
    Volunteers put together packages of food for those using the Foodbank based at King’s Church
    Volunteers put together packages of food for those using the Foodbank based at King’s Church

    Leanne James, Foodbank manager, said: “Since the end of Covid, numbers have been steadily increasing. There’s always something – energy bills, cost of living increases, or winter. We are open on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and we might give away 50 to 80 packages each of those days.

    “Because we’re based in a church, we don’t just give people food. We also have support workers and support groups to help them emotionally and socially, Some even come to church services because they see it as a safe space. They might even just sit at the back while the service is going on.”

    There are also Trussell Trust Foodbanks in Fareham, based at the home of Waypoint Church, and on the Isle of Wight. The island Foodbanks are in Cowes, Ryde, Newport and Shanklin. The Foodbank in Freshwater is closed, but hopes to re-open soon.

    To make digital donations to our Bishop’s Lent Appeal, see: portsmouth.anglican.org/lentappeal. Or make donations to your PCC treasurer, who can then pass them on. Any cheques should be made payable to ‘Portsmouth DBF’.

    (* Names have been changed, to preserve privacy of Foodbank clients)

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