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It’s more than just a food bank – support going beyond handouts in Bridgnorth

By Rory Smith | Bridgnorth | News | Published:

It is an affluent market town that brings in tourists from far and wide.

But Bridgnorth is not immune from the increasing reliance many families have on food handouts.

A report by charity the Trussell Trust this week warned that its network of UK food banks are expecting to experience their busiest Christmas ever.

In Bridgnorth a group has created an independent food bank after seeing it was required.

And now members of the group say they have seen a startling rise in demand from families in need.

They are continuing to expand their services as the number of residents in need of support has doubled in the last 12 months.

Members of the food bank at number seven West Castle Street said its teams are continuing to go beyond expectation to keep up with an “increasing amount of stress in people’s lives”.

Teams not only help dozens of families every week with food supplies and offer advice from a support worker, but Bridgnorth Baptist Church next door now runs a weekly drop-in event to support the community.

Recharge coincides with the food bank and opens from 10.30am to 12pm every Monday. It offers residents the chance to de-stress in an open area while having informal talks with trained workers and members of the church, with space for youngsters to play.

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Mrs Bird, manager of the food bank, said the people involved go above and beyond their expected role.

She said: “It’s more than just a food bank now. We’re independently run so we have more freedom to help in more ways, but it’s getting silly with how busy we’re getting.”

Busier and busier

Mrs Bird said the food bank recently purchased a wheelchair for a woman who had been unable to leave her home for five months as well as an outdoor key safe for an epileptic man to ensure police officers can enter his house if needed.

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She added: “Since last October the amount of people we help has doubled and we’re always getting new people through the door. We have a few facilities and rooms that people can go to and speak to our support worker. Often when people get to the point of needing a food bank they’re depressed, angry, suffer from panic attacks and in need of help.

“Some think we don’t need a food bank in Bridgnorth but we do, desperately.”

A line of people can be seen queueing outside the food bank every week, which last week helped 15 families, five couples, 12 individuals and dealt with four “emergency” cases. Due to the increasing number of people packing out the food bank each week, Bridgnorth Baptist Church Pastor Graeme Clark and his daughter Sarah Stridgen formed Recharge in October.

Mr Clark said: “We’ve been running Recharge for about six weeks and it’s just got busier and busier.

“It started lively with about 10 people and now we’re having about 25 to 30 with more coming each week.

“Originally food bank was designed as short-term help but we’re increasingly seeing people who are in difficulty for extended periods of time which just adds to the increasing amount of stress in people’s lives.

“We’re seeing more families in particular struggle and more anxious people in need. It takes people a while to get used to the idea we’re just a relaxed space where they can come and take a break from whatever they’ve got going on.”

Bridgnorth Food Bank and Recharge are currently calling for donations of toys and clothes for kids, jam, rice, toilet rolls, dog food, biscuits, cook in sauces and squash, as well as milk puddings, soup, tea, coffee and deodorant.

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Trainee news reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Ketley office in Telford.

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