Food banks in Shropshire say campaign is helping to spread word in tough times

It's not just the highly populated areas of Shropshire that need to be served by the willing volunteers who staff the county's food banks.

Ann Cooke, Trisha Palin and Alan Jolley of the St Laurence's food bank
Ann Cooke, Trisha Palin and Alan Jolley of the St Laurence's food bank

All week we have highlighted the work of organisations from Newport to Oswestry and The Borders to Whitchurch and Welshpool and District as part of our Feed a Family campaign.

Many are run by churches, such as the one in Church Stretton which is supported by Churches Together and the Rotary Club in the town.

They don't trumpet the work they do, but getting the message and awareness out there is vital to them and this has been shown this week.

Husband and wife team Richard and Lorraine McCrohan run the operation in Church Stretton, with the doors open at St Laurence’s Parish Centre every Friday from 2.30pm to 4.30pm.

The couple moved to Church Stretton three years ago and Richard is retired, but is kept busy by dealing with donations of food, a weekly shop and dealing with the financial side of the operation.

He said: "It is a very busy time, as I imagine it is for all food banks and to give an example, last month (August) we saw 120 people come through the door which was exactly 60 more than in the same month in 2021.

"Although we are fortunate to be quite well funded, with only 25 per cent of the food donated, I can only see the need for organisations like ours going up in the run-in to Christmas and any awareness of what we do, where we are and how we operate can only be welcome."

Gill Partridge of the Newport food bank reported business as usual on Friday morning but said many people had mentioned the feature in the Shropshire Star on them and she was grateful to the paper for highlighting the work they do.

The Newport food bank operates out of The Royal Navy Club, Bellman's Yard on Fridays from 9.30am to 11.30am, with donations welcome at Waitrose, Nationwide, Samuels Dry Cleaners and HSBC in the town.

Liz Bird has worked with Bridgnorth Food Bank as the manager since 2013 and certainly does her bit to spread the word about the work the team does.

She visits parish councils, women's institute groups - anywhere in fact to spread the word about the food bank, which opens its doors on a Monday morning but has donation points for food all over town at the council offices, schools and surgeries.

Liz also talks about the help the town council gives in funding a Citizen's Advice Surgery at Bridgnorth Library every week. The food bank has recently entered into an arrangement with Aldi to put a trolley for donations in store, has a similar arrangement with the Co-op, and also sources fruit and veg from Alveley Allotments.

She said: "I have recently been to Much Wenlock to speak at a meeting there and have done a lot of miles to raise awareness of the work we as volunteers are doing though we couldn't do it without the generosity of the town's people who have been so good over the years and continue to be so."

Karen Williams is from Shrewsbury food bank, based at Barnabas Church Centre, which was featured this week in the Feed a Family campaign and says she is sure the publicity of food banks across the county will only help as things get tougher for people with the hike in fuel prices.

She said although it was too soon to know whether the response was as a result of the Shropshire Star campaign, food donations were up by 150 kilos of donated food on last week.

Karen said: "Although awareness of food banks is probably higher than in it has been in recent years in the media, the stories behind what they do and how the food gets to them helps increase people's interest and knowledge of the types of people they help so we are fully behind the feed a family campaign."

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