Alnwick foodbank moves to new home to meet growing demand

Alnwick Foodbank volunteers Jean Findlay, Marlene Gray, Carol McRoberts with NCC representative and the manager of Northumberland Adult Learning, based at Lindisfarne, Michael Holliday.
Alnwick Foodbank volunteers Jean Findlay, Marlene Gray, Carol McRoberts with NCC representative and the manager of Northumberland Adult Learning, based at Lindisfarne, Michael Holliday.

A service which supports those in need has reported a year of unprecedented growth in 2018.

Almost five years on from its modest beginnings, Alnwick and District Foodbank met the needs of 250 adults and 150 children last year.

And the decision to expand the provision of free school meals in the area during the summer holidays resulted in a big take-up after its successful pilot in 2017.

This growth has meant that the charity has needed to look at its operations to work with efficiency and to meet the demand.

Acting chairman Chris Friend said: “We have benefitted from the generosity of Costa in central Alnwick in providing storage for us free of charge for the last three years. This has been fantastic but as trustees we’ve recognised that we need ground floor access and increased storage to meet demand.”

After a year of searching, the charity has found a new home at the Lindisfarne Annexe in Alnwick,which will make life easier for the over 25 volunteers who regularly give of their time.

Chris added: “The premises at Lindisfarne meet so many of our requirements and to be working alongside organisations such as Citizens Advice, a key partner, is a great match for us.

“We now have a base to build for the future and fantastic for our volunteers.

“As a charity, we’re delighted that Northumberland County Council recognise the wider use and potential of Lindisfarne serving as a community hub and we’re very glad to be here as a new chapter unfolds for Lindisfarne and for the town.”

Ultimately, the future will be about providing a wrap-around service from one place but in the meantime, the close relationship with the Salvation Army Shop in Alnwick allows for parcels to be collected there after initial assessing of need, not Lindisfarne.

Central to the objectives of the foodbank is to meet more of the needs of those who are on the edges of poverty in the community.

Trustee and incoming chairman Clive Gibson said: “We have never had a problem with supplies of food for ADFB, people in this town are incredibly generous.

“Our concern has always been that there is far more poverty out there and many are unwilling to ask for help with food because of the perceived stigma and shame attached to that.

“We have to break down that taboo in society. We’ve been running a ‘foodbank myths’ on our social media platform for the last two months to bring more awareness of this.

“There is need in this area and we want to meet it.”

The charity has been grateful for financial contributions in recent months. Trustee and treasurer Bryony Stimpson said: “There is obviously a cost to the charity in terms of rent, and we are immensely grateful to one organisation in particular which gave a very generous donation to help cover this.”

Alnwick and District Foodbank was set up in 2014 as a branch of the North Food Bank, which was started in 2012.

Its vision was to help those from the coast to Coquetdale with a volunteer-led team seeking to meet the essential food needs of disadvantaged individuals and families through a compassionate approach to genuine need.

The foodbank works with referral agencies, including CAB, Surestart, Age UK and NETs. It is also seeking to link in with GP surgeries and health centres.