Recently Elise Jones, daughter to one of our elders Nigel, spent a week with Brighton and Hove City Mission (BHCM). Here she outlines some of there currently needs and the process for which food is collected and distributed.
The food bank had just received lots of donations when I arrived, so was heavily stocked. At the moment they are lucky enough to have lots of tinned tuna, however this is often in short supply. They rely heavily on donations from churches like ours, and so if every family could donate one item a week they would never be in short supply. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to make a list of the items they need most, currently and throughout the year.
Current vital needs:
- Tinned meat (inc. tinned pies)
- Tinned fish (esp. tuna)
- Tinned desserts
Could always do with more:
- Tinned fruit
- Tinned vegetables
- Spreads (e.g. marmite, peanut butter)
- Sauces (e.g. pasta, curry sauce)
Currently have plenty of:
- Baked beans
They are particularly full on baked beans and pasta, so no more of that is needed. Occasional toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner are useful as well. They also appreciate donations of kitchen roll, toilet roll and tissues.
Working with Local Supermarkets
The food bank currently use a company called Fairshare. This company collects all the unwanted food from supermarkets and delivers it to various charities, who pay for the petrol only. During my time at the food bank, I was lucky enough to experience a particularly special delivery. As you can see, the shelves were stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables, which is a very rare sight. As you could imagine, tinned food often gets very boring for those who have to eat it regularly. The food bank are trying to get hold of more stock like this on a regular basis, particularly loaves of fresh bread. They also just received a document allowing them to distribute chilled food, and so are trying to get some ready meals and similar products that they can give to those with fridges. During my week I attended a meeting between Mike (the food bank manager) and the manager of the Brighton branch of Sainsburys. The food bank are trying to gain support from supermarkets like Sainsburys so they can have regular deliveries of fresher produce that they can give their clients, as at the moment they are having to buy the bread out of their own funds. They are currently advertising for a fundraiser job, as they are in need of someone who can sort out these issues full time.
Other services offered by BHCM
Another service the food bank offer is fuel aid. This is for those in particular need, who don’t have enough money for electricity or gas. They usually have meters in their homes which they are unable to top up. Therefore, the food bank provide a service in which they pay to top up these peoples’ cards, so they are able to enjoy electricity in their home like all of us do. This – however – requires lots of money, which is why it is key that the food bank receives donations of food and money from churches like us in order to continue providing this service.
The final thing the food bank provides is home start up packs. These are packages which they give to new clients who need particular equipment in their homes, usually because they have just been given unfurnished housing. The food bank goes to Asda and buys stock for these packs. This stock includes:
saucepans, cutlery, utensils (e.g. wooden spoon, strainer, spatula, can opener), bedding, a toaster, a kettle and towels.
Buying this stock provides a great service for those who need it, however this – like many other things – must come out of the charity’s budget. This is why it is essential they receive donations in order to keep stock of these.
Please consider how you can support BHCM either by regularly donating food to our collections points at the church building and at our Sunday services or by making a financial gift.