Dinnington Salvation Army says thanks for food bank support

published on 6 Jun 2024

The Salvation Army in Dinnington has thanked volunteers, churches and businesses for keeping its food bank running as need continues to increase. 

To mark Volunteers Week, which runs from June 3 to 9, the church and charity is shining a light on those who help keep activities and services running to help the community. 

Dinnington Salvation Army, near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, runs a food bank every Wednesday morning with around 40 food parcels filled with fresh fruit and vegetables given out. It also has an allotment and hosts Messy Church and coffee mornings. 

Les Clarke, Salvation Army Community Mission Facilitator, who runs the food bank with volunteers Joanne Clarke and Cllr Steve Scott, said: “We want to thank the community for their continued support as we wouldn’t be able to provide food parcels without it. We rely on volunteers, people like my wife Joanne who has been doing this for 25 years. 

Les Clarke Dinnington
Les Clarke

“We’re in a position where we don’t want to be growing the service, we want there to be less need, but the reality is need is growing. We’re doing an average of between 27 to 40 food parcels a week, whereas during the same period last year we were doing 10 to 15.  

“We used to have people queuing up outside from as early as 7am, so now we have started operating a ticketing system with doors opening at 10am to save queuing. We do take referrals via the job centre, social workers and police to name a few, but we also have a ‘no questions asked’ policy.  Joanne once saw someone sat outside in floods of tears because they were too afraid to walk through the door. We want people to feel comfortable coming to us, we are not here to judge and will support anyone who walks through the door.

“Donations from Costco, local churches and businesses are put on a table for people to take, which gives people choice and dignity. A lot of it is fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, bread, bakery items. 

“A lot of our clients struggle when it gets to the end of the month and they are waiting for payday, a lot are welfare recipients but there are some people who are working.” 

Les and Joanne Dinnington
Joanne and Les

Parish Councillor Zoe Lowe, who used the food bank in the past and now helps others struggling, said: “I had four children at the time and the money we got on welfare wasn’t enough to cover our food shopping. On a tight budget, you’re making a choice between buying some fruit or a loaf of bread, you go for the bread in that case. It helped because knowing I was getting some food from The Salvation Army meant I had enough to spend on school uniforms, new shoes, things like that.” 

As well as the food bank, Dinnington Salvation Army runs an allotment across the road with the hope that will soon also be providing fresh items for the food bank. 

Les continued: “We want to overhaul that so that people can come and grow their own produce. We want to build a little community area where people can sit and talk so there’s a social side to it. We have a gentleman who comes to tend it for us but we really want to get it going this year and make something of it. We’re looking to create a working group to help get it ready for planting. 

“We’re also looking at whether we could offer cookery classes and support people back into employment. 

“It’s the generosity of the community and local businesses that keep this going. Businesses like Costco, Northern Engineering, Greggs, Maltby and Rother Valley Lions, Secure Storage South Yorkshire, the WI, Co-op, Tesco, Hugh Neill, Foresters Group, the general public, local churches, and many more. Thank for all that you do.” 

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