Southport Foodbank was founded in May 2013, and forms part of the Compassion Acts charity. Their mission is to bring churches and other local organisations, businesses and groups together to act as good neighbours, supporting others in crisis and challenging poverty at its root – working towards a future where everyone has enough money for essentials.
As part of the Trussell Trust’s UK-wide network, the food bank provided 4,890 emergency parcels to people in crisis in the last year.
Never more vital
Richard Owens, Chief Executive of Compassion Acts, explains that the support from the community has never been more vital than over the last year – and churches have played a vital role in ensuring the food bank has been able to keep up with rising need.
“We have great support from across all the local churches in the area,” he said. “We were hosted by a Pentecostal church and now we are based in an Anglican church, so we have a great example of us working with a wide range of churches.
“Each year our food bank is presented with different challenges and because we are a seaside town, we see a lot of people coming to us who are just staying in employment, whether this is temporary or flexible still struggling to afford food. With the outbreak of the pandemic, people have been tipped over the edge into destitution. We are a food bank that does a lot of income maximisation work and we have our own welfare advice team within our charity to ensure we can provide the best possible support to people.”
Working with many churches
Southport Foodbank currently holds relationships with 45 churches around Southport, Formby and the surrounding areas as well as being supported by dozens of church schools with various food collections held throughout the year.
During the pandemic, and now, as we face restrictions easing, Southport Foodbank continues to provide the lifeline of emergency support, with more than 300 meetings with welfare advisers to look at benefits and debt – leading to reclaims of over £630,000 for people in crisis.
“We’re blessed to have the support of many churches in our community and they realise we take a holistic approach in supporting people,” Richard adds. “And these partnerships happen not just at Harvest time but we speak to the churches in our area week in, week out just to update them. We want to use our work to take churches on a journey with us by changing hearts and minds and talk to people about poverty in our area throughout the year. We know the issue of food banks can be a difficult subject but that is why we try and have regular conversations with churches to ensure they kept up to date with our work but also understand how important their support is.
“We are at the intersection of businesses, community groups and churches within Southport and we do cherish how faith and non-faith groups can come together to support our work in helping people in poverty.”
Social media is becoming an increasingly effective way for the food bank to connect and engage with churches and during Easter, due to the Covid restrictions in place, the food bank invited churches to take part in a series of spiritual reflections on social media.
Find out more about Compassion Acts and the Southport Foodbank