Wimborne Food Bank – So much more than food!

Wimborne Food Bank – So much more than food!

A Partnership to be proud of...

Wimborne Food Bank Plus, part of the Faithworks Arch, was the organisation we chose to support this year as part of our Community Support Commitment Pledge for 2023.

We reached out to Sharon, the manager based at Leigh Park Community Centre on Gordon Road, to get to know more about the services and support they offer, and how best we can get involved and support our neighbouring community. Sharon leads a wonderful, dedicated group of volunteers who actively work in the community, not just to provide a resource, but to offer a range of services aimed at inclusion, guidance and personal attention to everyone who steps through their doors. And it really isn't just food, they have specialist advisors on a Wednesday morning who offer a 1:1 opportunity to discuss budgeting, housing needs and help with filling in forms and applications. They provide a relaxed, welcoming setting and are really in touch with the needs of their visitors, and have formed their own partnerships with other local organisations such as The Wardrobe Foundtion, so that the community can access clothing, even formal wear for occasions such as interviews.

We were really excited when Sharon accepted our offer, and we began discussing the current program they are offering at the moment, and what we could do to help.

Now we're crockin'

The main focus on the current program was to teach as well as to provide, giving the visitors to Wimborne Food Bank the opportunity to learn new techniques and try foods they may not have had before. Cooking is a life skill, but not all families have the time, and not all visitors have the resource in their current accommodation to cook for themselves. With this in mind, as well as the Winter cold snap and the high energy costs, Sharon wanted to provide something that would help the visitors cook their own nutritious and warming meal, in a space saving and energy efficient way, so she decided she was going to raise funding to source and supply Slow Cookers, aka Crock Pots, and provide recipe cards and pre-pared meal bags for the visitors to take away and try at home.

We decided here that this was definitely something we could help with, and started with our first donation of 10x Slow Cookers for this week's open morning yesterday, Wednesday 8th March. But, we wanted to be useful and really see first hand the work that goes on behind the scenes, so Sharon kindly welcomed us to volunteer as well. The centre is a hive of activity, but despite the "all hands on deck" action, the flow of visitors, and the setting up and packing away, the bank is run with an incredible amount of organisation and attention to detail.

The volunteers were quick to get started, labelling and sorting the additional items in separate areas so that visitors can supplement their pre-packed food bags, while there was a constant stream of loading and unloading from the collection points at local supermarkets and the storage facilities at the centre. There were two ladies behind the scenes in the outside storage units, packing up the pre-packed bags, working from lists of key items and quantities based on how many people per family. There is a separate list for those staying in local temporary housing, who may only have access to a microwave and kettle, so their bags are tailored to suit their specific needs, which really highlights the inclusive and in touch attitude that Sharon fosters at this bank.

Despite the hard work, the volunteers were happy to welcome me into the group and talk about the work that they are doing. I was fortunate enough to have a tour, and I was honoured to be contributing, even though it felt such a small offering compared to the dedication of the group. It was especially rewarding to see how they interacted with each other, a real friendly, team focused group which for a small time, I was a part of.

This week's recipe was Magic Lemon Sponge, and after preparing some laminated recipe cards, delivering the slow cookers, and sorting the donations, it was time to leave the team.

I can honestly say I left humbled to have been a small part of this community service, and we look forward to giving a regular helping hand to Wimborne Food Bank Plus. We are excited to get involved with the Family Fun Day in May, and see what the rest of the year unfolds.

Wimborne Food Bank+ is open on Wednesdays, 10am – 12pm and Fridays, 2pm – 4pm  (Fridays, 12pm – 2pm for donations only)

For more information on where you can donate, please visit https://faith-works.org.uk/locations-across-dorset/wimborne-food-bank-dorset/