Whaley Bridge foodbank is a 'hidden gem' for those who are struggling
A foodbank which has been supporting the residents of Whaley Bridge since the start of the year has been branded ‘amazing’ by one of its users.
Whaley Bridge Foodbank not only provides food but toiletries, pet goods and luxury treats for those who are struggling every month.
Founder Nev Clarke set up the foodbank in the Transhipment Warehouse at Whaley Canal Basin in the winter after he was approached by Councillor Fiona Sloman who wanted to build on his idea of collecting warm winter clothing for people who may be struggling.
"It grew from there,” he said.
"We now have so much stock and donations coming in from supermarkets like Morrisons and Waitrose, as well as from members of the public, it’s great.
"I just want to get the word out to the people in the community who may need help to come here.
"There is no stigma, no shame, only help.
"We understand people who are still working may need our help just as much as people out of work.
"This last year has proved that nothing is certain and people who may have had stable jobs all their lives are now juggling the bills on reduced hours and finding they are struggling.”Since its launch the foodbank has helped 12 households on a regular basis as well as others less often but Nev says with the volume of donations coming through the charity could double the service it provides.
He said: “The thing is not enough people know about us yet and there maybe families going hungry because they don’t know local help is available without travelling to other parts of the High Peak.
"But we are here on your doorstep ready and waiting to help.”
One foodbank user has expressed her gratitude to the service as she is now able to treat herself a bit more.
Donna Wilman works part time at the Co-Op in Whaley Bridge but in recent months, things have been tough for the 60-year-old with her 19-year-old daughter out of work.
"I thought foodbanks were only for people who were unemployed but they are for everyone and anyone who needs a little bit of help.
"I work, I pay my bills and that’s it, there is no spare money. If anything it’s a struggle some months just to make it to the end of the month.
"When I first went down there I was really embarrassed but the team were lovely and started asking me what I needed and did I prefer this or that. It’s a choice I wasn’t expecting to have. I thought it would be a case of here’s my food and that’s it.
"It’s like an Aladdin’s Cave down there with aisles and aisles of things to pick from not just food but sanitary products, dog treats and cat food, it’s amazing.
"It’s a like a little supermarket only you don’t pay at the end.
"My budget covers the basics like bread, milk and I buy the cheap coffee but at the foodbank there was posh coffee that I would never have picked up because I don’t have the money for it.
"I also got a tin of salmon - something which is way out of my price range but I had a tin and I felt so grateful to be able to have some nice things for a change and treat myself to the branded beans and shower gel rather than always buying the budget versions."
Nev said it was important for people to have a choice when visiting. “A nice bar of chocolate or a fancy drink you wouldn’t normally buy need to be in people’s cupboards every now and then.
"We all need a little treat sometimes, it can pick you up and put a smile on your face and make you remember you matter.”
Donna says she has also told people who she knows are struggling to go and get help at the foodbank.
She said: “No one is taking advantage, we are all just so thankful for this wonderful service which is making living every month a bit easier.”
Nev said the support from the community has blown him away and most recently the Goyt Striders ran 100 miles for 100 cans to support the food bank.
Donation boxes have been placed in both Whaley Bridge’s Co-op and Well Pharmacy and are always full.
He said: “The generosity the public and local businesses have shown clearly demonstrates our little community cares deeply for those who need such services.
"We've had stock come in much faster than it could possibly go out, even if we were in the inner city, such is the warmth shown. It is going out though.
“We also help other food banks when they are running low as well as the likes of the Community Shop in New Mills and school breakfast clubs.
"This in turn helps to keep funds in PTA coffers that help to subside trips for those who can't afford them.”
The foodbank are working with schools in the area so parents who may be struggling can be signposted to the right help.
The charity operates a soft referral basis which means users do not need to bring any kind of paperwork.
The official hours are Mon, Wed and Fri 12-3 but if the doors of the Transhipment are open so is the food bank.
Likewise, Nev says it can open at other hours if people need them, particularly those who may be at work but struggling.
Appointments can be made outside advertised hours by text on 07920 253075 or by email [email protected]