Rothwell will soon have a much needed food bank thanks to the hard work carried out so far with community volunteers.
The food bank is a result of a series of meetings I set up as chair of the Outer South community committee. The meetings have brought together representatives from several community groups such as the Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) and Rothwell’s Baptist, Methodist and Anglican Churches.
We had two initial meetings and another yesterday to look at possible venues and the great news is that we have found one. The ground work has now been set in preparation for a food bank to open in Rothwell. Following site visits to look at three venues, it has been agreed to set up the facility at Temple Lawn Community Centre, and a volunteer manager has been appointed and volunteers ready and waiting.
The Leeds South Food Bank has pledged its support for the Rothwell project and offered training for volunteers from several community groups, including Rothwell TARA and Fair Exchange, to help them set up and run the new facility. Crucially, Leeds South agreed to train the new volunteers once the Rothwell food bank was established, and support Rothwell, providing admin support, storage space and food.
I’m delighted to have secured £1000 from the Outer South Community Committee to fund the new food bank which will provide storage and IT equipment. The committee has also ring-fenced £1000 for similar projects in Morley and Ardsley and Robin Hood.
The food bank will operate on a referral only basis from appropriate trained referrers from partner agencies and has a maximum use of three times per year per family. It will be a facility used for emergency circumstances.
The Trussell Trust, which helped set up the Leeds South food bank says that benefit delays and changes have led to 50 per cent of all referrals to food banks. The Trust state the Bedroom Tax, which increasingly looks like it will cost more than it saves, is a huge part of the problem. The National Audit Office says that claimants are waiting months to claim new disability benefits, with even terminally ill patients waiting four weeks to get support.
Research, carried out by Tesco, the Trussell Trust and food redistribution charity FareShare shows that 70% of families suffering from food poverty with children in primary school education rely in some part on food supplied by schools. The school summer holidays could now see a large number of children going hungry. The research also shows the problem of food poverty is unlikely to improve in the near future, with only a third of people currently suffering from food poverty expecting their situation to improve in the next twelve months.
Now a venue has been agreed further training sessions for volunteers will be arranged in time for the food bank to be opened on Thursday, August 14. Any businesses, community groups or local people interested in getting involved can contact me.
We all know Rothwell is a great area to live, but unfortunately there are pockets of deprivation in our communities, and many have felt the effects of the recent recession and other factors, which have seen some people suffering real hardship. Local schools and community groups have raised concerns about the needs of many families, so I’m really pleased that we have taken the first steps to create a new food bank for the area. It is unbelievable that such a facility is needed in England in the 21st century, but that is the current reality.
It’s fantastic that we have been able to secure premises and an opening date for the food bank and I look forward to working closely with everyone involved to ensure we offer a first class service for people who need our help.
A special thank you to the John O’Gaunts Tenants and Residents Association as it has kindly helped us secure the venue so quickly so we can get the food bank off the ground.