Salvation Army in Swindon appeals for support for food hub
published on 29 Jul 2021
Salvation Army leaders in Swindon are calling on charities and food outlets in the town to support an innovative scheme to help people in poverty.
Rather than just provide food parcels to struggling families, the plan is run as a membership scheme where people get specialised help to manage their finances and if relevant, find work. The church and charity is asking local businesses to help with the scheme by providing support for the set-up and ongoing help with donations of food, resources and volunteers.
Salvation Army Corps Officer Captain Theresa Torr, explained: “During the pandemic, the church and charity at Gorse Hill provided people with food parcels, and now it has a fully operational foodbank, but we knew we needed to provide a longer-term solution.
“Our plan would be to run a membership scheme, where people needing longer term assistance could join up and attend the food hub once a week, and pay £4 for £25 to £30 worth of food.”
Theresa stressed the scheme is much more than a food bank and would provide a hand up rather than just a hand out.
She said: “Nobody wants to be reliant on a food bank and so we wanted to find a way of helping people move on from support. Clients would have to sign a six-month contract to access to the food hub. We would also look at providing long term budgeting help, we have our own Employment Plus group, which looks at employability, training, wellbeing and life skills as well as work support.
"We would also provide people with recipe cards and meal preparation advice.”
The scheme would be the first of its kind in Swindon. Membership would run for six months initially, then Theresa and her team will decide whether to extend membership depending on how the person or family is managing.
She added: “We see the same people coming back to us for food time and time again, and we think that this is a good way of helping in the long term. We feel that this scheme gives the control back to people.”
Hayley Purnell, corps administrator, said: “It’s about giving people support and autonomy and it’s their responsibility to work with us. We want to help them manage their finances responsibly. If they are waiting six to eight weeks for Universal Credit, we want them to use their money in a way they have more control over.
“They’re coming out of a crisis where they need a food parcel to be the next step, but not something that lasts forever. We can help them manage by making them aware of what they’re entitled to.”
Both Theresa and Hayley are looking forward to getting the scheme off the ground but stress it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Theresa explained: “If I had the resources to set up and go tomorrow, I would. If you feel you can help with the scheme, we’d be delighted to hear from you.”
For more information, please contact The Salvation Army’s church at Swindon Gorse Hill by calling 01793 436928 or emailing email@example.com