The Community Pantry aims to alleviate hunger in the community by gifting cooked meals, fresh food and toiletries to people both inside and outside the local community. The project is supported by local companies and individuals that gift food for the Community Pantry to distribute.
The initial impact has been that we are supplying some 455 meals per month and this is growing steadily.
All of this work is carried out without funding and is only possible because of the hard work and dedication off our Trustees and Volunteers. We are looking for finance to further develop and support the projects by employing a full time coordinator to oversee the smooth running and development of the project and to support our volunteers.
We would like to buy a small refrigerated van to aid in the collection of the food produce which is currently being collected by volunteers in their own vehicles.
The impact the project has had on the community is measured by the feedback and comments we have received from those who benefit, "I will eat like a king tonight" a quote from a man gifted a simple meal of a steak bake, Sausage roll, sandwich and a cake. "I put on a pound in weight"a quote from a very underweight lady.
The project aims to make the process of coming for support as easy and accessible as possible, we do not ask intrusive questions of our clients and we are based in the centre of the community that we support and are open seven days a week to distribute food and toiletries.
We support clients with no income, those on low income, working clients with variable or zero hour contracts, those awaiting benefit payments, some who have been sanctioned and have no benefits, care leavers, some leaving the criminal justice system and many with disabilities and additional support needs. Those who are homeless and roofless are able to use our shower facilities and our washing machine, we are also an accommodation address to enable them to receive post, register with a GP and other medical services.
We offer accredited training through distance learning to enable clients to gain qualifications to help them to become economically active. We also support school pupils who have been excluded from school or who are NEET, we would like to develop this programme by becoming an accredited exam centre to expand the offer of accredited qualifications to service users.
We also run peer support groups to help people live and cope with mental illness.
I believe that people should vote for our project because we are a small charity offering life changing support and personal development opportunities to clients at a local level at no cost to themselves. We believe that everyone could potentially need support at sometime in their lives and that our organisation makes that support easy to access without any stigma or stereotyping. We are inclusive offering volunteering opportunities and training/ development to any that request this, all of this is done with little or no financial support from local government, we are totally reliant on the goodwill of our Trustees, volunteers and local business.
The money will make a difference because it will enable us to both maintain and expand our service provision, our volunteers would benefit by having a dedicated coordinator to support, manage and develop their skills so that they can directly benefit from their relationship with the Community Pantry as many of our volunteers have moved on into paid employment.
We are looking to purchase our own transport to use for food collections, we would also be able to insure the vehicle so that all licensed volunteers would be able to use it to collect food and toiletries. We would also be able to buy essential herbs and spices and other essential ingredients to add to the food that we cook from the donations received. We endeavour to cook healthy meals using fresh produce when possible but this also involves training volunteers in food hygiene.