A new service designed to help people who are struggling to feed themselves and their families will soon be opening its doors in Carrick.
The Trussell Trust, which operates food banks in Larne, Dundonald and Coleraine, will open a fourth distribution centre based at Jordan Victory Church on Woodburn Road.
The centre is being run by a team of volunteers from the church, including Henry McCrory, Alex Moore, Gwen Smyth and Joanna Lesslie.
“The church had already been proactively sorting out things like hampers at Christmas, so this seemed to be a very structured, practical way to help the community,” said Henry.
The food bank relies on donations of non-perishable items from members of the public, including long life milk, tea, coffee, cereals and tinned goods. The items are then sorted into packs by volunteers at the warehouse.
“The packs contain a three-day emergency supply of food; that’s usually enough to get people on their feet again. Trussell Trust ask that we have at least two to three tonnes of food in the warehouse before we open as it tends to go quite quickly and we have more or less reached that amount now,” said Gwen.
The Trust operates a system whereby families or individuals in crisis can receive a voucher from frontline care professionals, such as doctors and social workers.
“At the moment we have Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Homestart and Women’s Aid on board and there will be other agencies in the coming weeks,” said Alex. “The food banks are for people who find themselves in a position where they have no money in an emergency situation - if their benefits have been cut or they lose their job, for example. These people would come from outside agencies who then direct them on to us, so you are dealing with those who are in genuine need and helping them at that point of crisis.
“Part of our responsibilty at the centre is also to signpost people to any other agencies that can help them with the long term issues, such as CAP (Christians Against Poverty).”
The work of the food bank is boosted by the local branch of Tesco, who have a permanent collection point in store. “People can donate into that collection point at any time and it’s emptied once a week; we do national collections as well,” said Alex. “Tesco’s give us 30 percent of whatever we collect.”
Several schools in the borough have also offered their support for the project, including Ulidia and Carrick College as well as Humpty Dumpty nursery at Downshire.
“We are getting to the point where we want to try and employ someone part-time as the admin is so vast, so we are looking for finance in some sectors to service that need,” Henry said. “We’d like to hear from any businesses or organisations who might be able to help us in that way.”
For more information on the foodbank, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9343 8475.