Newtownabbey Foodbank has catered for 10,000 people since it opened four years ago, the charity has revealed.
The figure was published as the management committee recognised the valuable contribution of 123 volunteers.
John Dickinson, chair of Newtownabbey Foodbank management committee, said: “Volunteers rather than food, are the lifeblood of a foodbank – they turn a pantry into a ministry. The Newtownabbey Foodbank relies on over a hundred volunteers who serve in the warehouse, doing repetitive and often menial tasks or in a distribution centre adding compassion and friendship to the provision of food for those who are struggling, often through no fault of their own, to make ends meet. They are heroes.”
The charity added: “Newtownabbey Foodbank has fed 10,000 people since it opened in 2015. This has only been possible due to the generosity of volunteers who give their time and the many churches, schools, businesses and customers of local stores who have supported the foodbank over of the last four years. A very big thank you to everyone who has supported us to meet the needs of those in our community who are struggling to feed their families.”
When the foodbank opened in Carnmoney Church in partnership with Trussell Trust it was with a distribution centre in the church and a warehouse, which was gifted by a generous member of the congregation. The need for this provision in the community was very quickly recognised and over the next 18 months distributions centres were opened in Abbots Cross Presbyterian, Ballyclare Presbyterian and Greencastle Methodist supported by Whitehouse Presbyterian and St Vincent de Paul.
Catherine White, who is the team leader at the distribution centre in Abbots Cross Presbyterian, said: “Our centre has been open for four years and in that time we have helped many families. Working in the foodbank has made me more aware that life is very hard for those who come into us. Being part of the foodbank has made a big difference for the better in my life.”
Church congregations have faithfully donated food every week with the quantity of food increasing over the years. The support of customers at Tesco Northcott has been a great encouragement to the volunteers during food collections in the summer and Christmas. In addition, Tesco donates 20% of the value of the food donated in the store. That finance is vital to fund the running costs of the foodbank, the committee stated.
Dorothy Crymble, who has volunteered in the warehouse for three years, said: “I come in every week to weigh, date and stack food, which has been donated. I have become good friends with the volunteers I work with and It is really rewarding to know that I am helping someone in need of support”.
The management committee also extended thanks to the generous customers and staff of the Co-op at Beverley for their support with donations of food over the last 18 months.
“Our volunteers who recently stood in the store for two Saturdays with collection boxes were astounded by the response from generous customers, which raised £618.38. This was part of our participation in being chosen to benefit from the Co-op Local Community Fund this year. To date the fund has raised over £700.00, which is amazing so we are asking people in the Newtownabbey community to support this fund. This is much needed funding for the foodbank which depends on donations to sustain our work.
“To help us raise those vital funds, we will be relying on Co-op shoppers. Every time Co-op members buy own-brand products they get a 5% reward for themselves, and a further 1% goes to local causes like ours. Co-op members can vote for Newtownabbey Foodbank by going online www.coop.co.uk/membership. If you’re not a member and would like to support us, you can join at your local store or online at www.coop.co.uk.
“Asda customers in Ballyclare also donate food, which is collected every week and they are also extremely generous in donating money during bag packs in the store. Customers of Iceland support the foodbank donating food when they are shopping in the Glengormley store.
“Thank you to everyone who supports the foodbank as it is due to this partnership that those in need can receive the help they justly deserve.”
The foodbank welcomes any new offers of help with funding. Businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting its work can contact the secretary on 07581 179604 or by e mail at email@example.com