High Peak Foodbank expanding to bigger premises in Buxton

With more demand than ever for the services of High Peak Foodbank, the charity is expanding to a bigger venue.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 12:00 pm

Managed by The Zink Project, the charity has seen a 400 per cent increase in the number of referrals coming in for the foodbank in the past year so is moving to new premises at The Old Cattle Market in Buxton in order to be able to help more people.

Jane Kirk-Bagshaw, deputy CEO for Zink said: “We have helped more people with food bank parcels than we ever thought we would in just one year.

"It is heartbreaking to know so many people are at crisis point or facing extreme poverty.

The food banks can help those with empty cupboards

"People have been furloughed or made redundant but still need to feed their families and pay their bills so we have stepped up to help where we can.

"There was already a need for these services and we were already thinking we would one day need to expand but the impacts of the last year have reinforced our need to move to a bigger space.”

The new premises will become a community hub helping those in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales who have been made unemployed or are experiencing isolation or poor mental health especially because of Covid to get the support they need.

Volunteers at the High Peak Foodbank including former High Peak MP Ruth George

The Zink Project will also be based at the new site, helping those out of work gain qualifications and get back on the job ladder.

Realising many clients didn’t have qualifications, Zink became the first UK foodbank to deliver City and Guild courses, in a move supported by Buxton and Leek College.

After identifying that long term unemployment was a barrier to work for some people, the simplest solution seemed to be to employ them and the concept of microjobs was born.

Long term unemployed people are given the opportunity to design and apply for a job within the charity. They have an interview and if successful are given the position

for a few hours a week.

Jane said: “Zink has been supporting foodbank users with additional services for six years. During this time foodbank use increased by 79 per cent nationally, but in the area covered by Zink it dropped because of the additional support. That's how we know Zink works.

"We have supported over 400 long term unemployed people into work, resolved issues that caused poverty for over 800 and helped over 450 get qualifications or into training in order to get a job.”

As well as the foodbank and employment help, Zink Advice is on hand to to help foodbank users to resolve the issues which caused them to need emergency food as well as applications for help to buy essential household items like cookers, bedding and fridges.

The new premises will also feature an eco community cafe open to members of the public and serving food which is surplus in the supermarket supply chain.

In 2017, the Zink Project started a monthly Super Kitchen. Now re-branded the ‘Buxton Community Café, before lockdowns and social restrictions it was serving wholesome food from 5.30-6.30pm on the first Friday of the month using food that is surplus in the supply chain and cooked by a team of volunteers and everyone is invited.

Jane said: “We have grown so much since we first opened and it’s really exciting to think what is just around the corner.

"With the bigger premises we will also be able to act as a job agency for local entry level and low skilled jobs, upcycling projects, book exchanges, as well as an enterprise area to help people set up businesses.

"There will also be a space for wellbeing activities including physical, arts and alternative therapies.

"We know there is a stigma attached to using a foodbank - it says you can’t cope and you need help and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting you need help we want to make it easier for people.

"So with so many things going on at the new centre people won’t know why you are there.”

The work of the foodbank has been praised by one user’s support worker who said: “I just wanted to thank you for sorting my client’s food parcel out.

"She is going through a lot and I really appreciate the care and consideration you took in providing some essential goods for her today – you have really made a difference and for her to feel someone cares is a big deal!

“Thanks to everyone who supports High Peak Foodbank

The cost of the move from the United Reformed Church in Hardwick Square to a unit at the bottom of the Old Cattle Market car park is £80,000 and so far more than £65,000 has been raised to make this dream a reality.

Jane said: “It’s amazing how much the community has got behind this project and we can’t wait to welcome you when it’s all finished.”

The contracts were signed in April and the finished project is hoped to be finished in the summer.

The new space will also act as a Kickstarter Gateway making it easier for small business to make use of the government funding take on younger employees.

Fundraising is still ongoing for the new site and anyone who wishes to donate can do so at www.localgiving.org/appeal/Zinkhub.

For anyone wanting to donate to the foodbank or learn more about the employment schemes contact www.highpeakfoodbank.co.uk.