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  • Writer's pictureSt Saviour's Sunbury

The Community Foodbank

As a Food Bank we primarily provide an important 7-day practical parcel, to fill an emergency gap solution.  We see our Surplus Food area as a permanent evolving feature in our community, a place where anyone can receive.  Inevitably, we primarily support those facing hardship, but we are keen to pitch it as being “open to all” and free from stigma.  

The area of “Surplus Food” operates on a trust basis and is not means tested.

For those needing access to Surplus Food, it is available every: Monday from 10am to 11am, Wednesday from 12noon to 1pm and Thursday from 10am to 11am.

Food is donated by local Schools, Churches, Supermarkets, Businesses and individuals. They give non-perishable and in-date food, toiletries, cleaning materials and personal hygiene items to our Community Food Bank.  The Community Food Bank is a communal place where, amongst other things that go on, surplus food is shared between local people. Part of what the Community Food Bank exists to do is bridge the gap between food poverty and food waste, to foster a spirit of sharing.

FOOD IS SORTED AND STORED by Volunteers, who check that the everything is of a good enough quality and in-date, ready to be given to people in need.  Last year, over 25 people gave up their time and energy to help with this, some for a few hours and some for several hours a week.  The Community Food bank is open regularly and is a source of fresh, surplus food, in an acceptable condition, for anyone who needs it.

PROFESSIONALS IDENTIFY PEOPLE IN NEED The Community Food Bank partners with a wide range of Care professionals, including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Doctors, Headteachers, Health Visitors, Housing Officers, Nursery Managers, Police, School Link Workers and Social Workers.  They identify people in crisis and issue them, with a Food Bank referral. Anyone in need in the local community, is entitled to receive a food parcel from us.

CLIENTS RECEIVE FOOD Our clients come to St Saviour’s Church, in Vicarage Road, where the Community Food Bank operates from and they can collect a full week’s shop, along with any extra surplus free food that we might have that day. They will also meet with our Volunteers, over a warm drink and have the chance to chat.  They can ask for any help or assistance they require and we will do our best to help where we can.  Clients are assigned to a Food Bank team member, who will befriend them and signpost them to any Agencies that might be able to help with any longer-term problems.

WHO HELPS US? We have been fortunate enough to take advantage of some amazing generosity from our local community, including schools, along with local groups such as the Women’s Institute and Scout troops.  Sunbury Matters – the local community magazine, has allowed us to have a free write-up, which enabled us to reach out even further into the community.  We have had fantastic support from our local Supermarket, who has agreed to let us have a collection point in their store.  This was recently replaced with a new Collection Trolley and the weekly appeals that we put out for the things we need the most, has seen an even bigger response from our local residents.  We can usually empty a full trolley, up to 5 times a week! 

WHAT ELSE DO WE DO? It is important to stress that the Community Food Bank and its related programmes:  the Community Lunch, Money Skills and the Detox / 12-Step Programme, are designed as a Hand Up and not a Hand Out.  We know that there are many reasons for temporary hardship – for example minimum wage not necessarily being a living wage, zero-hour contracts and delays in benefit payments. Often buying food, or other kinds of well-being come last on the list, behind paying rent and for utilities.

  • We know that “Food Unites”.  It has the power to bring people and communities together and so we are very PROUD to provide a good quality lunch, most from surplus food, every Wednesday, from 12noon to 1.30pm.  All our welcome at this Community Lunch.  Social isolation is an issue linked to physical, emotional and psychological well-being. It is influenced by personal and community factors.  Social isolation has damaging impacts on health and the overall quality of life.  The Community Lunch team understands that social support is a key determinant and we believe that food is a powerful tool to bring people together.  We offer the Community Lunch, along with other programmes, to give people the opportunity to come together in a warm, welcoming and relaxing setting, where they can make friends, as well as having a chance to share experiences.  The heart of the Community Lunch approach is a recognition that meeting people, “where they are at”, often requires going beyond food and simply connecting community members with responsive support that addresses a variety of needs.  

  • Spelthorne Borough would like to make Sunbury a “Dementia Friendly” village and St Saviour’s was happy to help by providing some facilities to run Training Courses on this subject.  Dementia does not care who you are and it could affect any of us, at any time. Public understanding is still poor, so people unlucky enough to have dementia often feel misunderstood, marginalised and isolated.  That means that they are less likely to live independently in their own community.  The vision is to create a climate of kindness and understanding, so that everyone affected by dementia feels part of, not apart from, society.  Alzheimer’s Society’s “Dementia Friends”, is doing just that.  It is the biggest ever initiative to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.  We were able to run 5 Training Courses in 2017, resulting in 130 people becoming a “Dementia Friend”, which simply means finding out more about how dementia affects a person and then, armed with this understanding – doing small everyday things that help, like being patient in a shop queue.

  • We trialled a free local Stop Smoking service at St Saviour’s Church, every Thursday morning.  Studies show that a person is four times more likely to quit if help is available.  The local Stop Smoking service was developed by experts and ex-smokers. It is delivered by professionals and provides expert advice, support and encouragement to help people stop smoking for good.  It offers one-to-one support, along with Stop Smoking medicines, which are available at the cost of a prescription.

  • From early September, to late July every year, schools provide the invaluable service of free school meals, for children of families who cannot afford to pay for a school dinner or provide them with a packed lunch.  This means that Parents / Carers are struggling to provide their children (and, of course, themselves) with enough daily sustenance and so the Government gives the school enough money to provide these children with a school meal. So, in the summer holidays (the end of July to the end of August), we continued to run our Wednesday Community Lunch and arranged special support for the families referred to us, whilst the schools were closed.  We invited the families down for lunch each week and our Youth and Children’s Worker was around to engage with the children.  As they left, each family was given enough food to cover lunch and snacks to last until the following Wednesday.  We managed to provide a helping hand to 26 families (133 people) throughout the 6-week holiday period.

  • We ran a 12-Step Recovery Programme for people struggling with ALL Addictions. Community Recovery is aimed at helping those who are already on, or who are open to a spiritual route to recovery, by trying to break their chains of addiction.  Clients are supported through a Christian Recovery programme that uses 12 Steps, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous, to address the issues that are very often at the root of addiction.

  • We ran a Table Top sale in July and all the money made was put towards our growing work within the local community.

  • On 5th August 2017, we held a Kick Start day (see video below). After months of planning, the Community Food Bank team joined members from the Johnson and Johnson workforce.  We were out in the community all day giving a helping hand decorating, making new furniture, filling skips with rubbish and doing some gardening (something similar to DIY SOS on the television). We identified 5 of our current Food Bank clients’ houses and over 50 people worked tirelessly from 7.30am to 6.30pm.   A big thank you to all those who made this happen and to Johnson and Johnson in particular, who provided all the materials we needed.

  • Harvest is always as busy time for Food Banks and this year we were again overwhelmed by the generosity of the schools in particular and pleased to see so many children bringing their gifts to share with those less fortunate than themselves.  A MASSIVE thank you to the following, for their continued support at this time of the year: Beauclerc School, Bishop Wand Church of England School, Chennestone School, Clarendon School, Hawkedale School, Kennyngton Manor, Oak Hill Academy, Spelthorne School, Springfield School, St George’s Church, Hanworth, St Ignatius School, St Paul’s Catholic School and Sunningdale Nursery

  • We applied to be put forward for the customer vote in the Tesco Sunbury store, in November and December 2017, in the Tesco Bags for Life Help Scheme.  Thank to everyone who received a token and voted for our Community Food Bank.

  • We launched our second year of the Reverse Advent Calendar in 2017.  Last year we challenged people to do something a little different, by creating an Advent Calendar that you put something in, instead of taking something out of. The idea is that you fill a box every day with non-perishable items, that can be taken to the local Community Food Bank, in order to help those less fortunate and who are struggling at Christmas time.  This is becoming a new Christmas tradition for us and it shows us the importance of helping others.  It is all about seeing the bigger picture at Christmas.  We collected over 180 boxes this year.

  • We again appealed to the local community, collecting for this year’s Give a Christmas Gift.  This initiative is organised by the Community Food Bank and provides the opportunity for people in and around the Sunbury area, to donate a Christmas present, which will be chosen by a Parent / Carer, wrapped by some of our Volunteers and then given to a child, who, probably, otherwise would not get a Christmas present, or at least a very limited number of gifts, due to family financial or social reasons.  It was fantastic to be running this again this year, and it was our biggest year yet, with 285 children, who had been identified locally as in need, being able to benefit from this scheme.  I am a Mother and appreciate the moments of watching your children open a present on Christmas morning, but also realise the cost implications involved.  Many families simply cannot afford to give their children the Christmas that they think they deserve, which is why we urge those who are in a position to do so, to come forward and give a little help where they can.

  • The Community Team at St Saviour’s also organised a Christmas Market stall, to take the stresses out of Christmas shopping.  This was held on 8th December 2017 and people were invited to come and stock up on Stocking Fillers and indulge in some hot food, hot chocolate, or possibly something a bit stronger, whilst choosing some hand-crafted decorations to adorn their home.  We made around £2,200 for the Food Bank and the Big Build.


  • You may have seen in the media recently, that there has been a huge increase in the number of referrals of people requiring help from their local Community Food Bank.  Unfortunately, the Sunbury / Shepperton area is no exception, as the number of people coming to us each week has been rising steadily.  We rely heavily on the generosity of others, either by food or regular monetary donations.  This service is a combined Church and local community effort.  It cannot continue without Volunteers – for example, we issued over 2,200 food parcels in 2017 and currently support about 260 plus families – this would not happen without your help.

  • Do you ever eat with strangers?  We know the real value of social eating and many of the local people in Sunbury, who attend our Community Lunch, attend on their own, but would we all benefit if we chose the company of strangers more often?  Please think about coming along to one of our Community Lunches.

  • Please also remember our Surplus to Supper event, which we will be holding again this year on 24th November 2018. We came up with this idea, to show people what can be done with the Surplus Food that we collect from the local Supermarket, because, although it is at its sell by date, it is still very edible and safe to eat.  Our thoughts were, that there must be something that could bridge the gap between the amount of food poverty and food waste.  We came up with the idea of a Surplus to Supper dinner. In 2017, the dinner was an 80-cover Fine Dining meal, using only food from “surplus” at stores like Tesco. Last year’s event was amazing and we raised over £8,000. We are, of course, hoping to follow up from this success by making this year’s, an even better night.  You will receive a save the date e-mail, in due course and, no doubt, a request for support e-mail nearer the time.  We would really appreciate any help you can get through local businesses etc.


The 7-day shop and other initiatives offered by St Saviour’s Church, provide a vital helping hand, along with friendly human contact and advice when it is most needed.  The Community Food Bank is the conduit that channels the amazing donations and goodwill that we receive, to those that need it most, in the most efficient way, using our volunteer work force! However, we need to fund raise to help us keep our service going and to improve its effectiveness even more.  In particular, we need to purchase a van, to move around the ever- increasing amounts of food.  At the moment the Food Bank only has the capacity to take dry goods, or fresh goods that can be used on the day, as there is no access to any fridges or freezers.  

With the money that we are are hoping to raise from events next year, we want to purchase a number of large, industrial fridges and freezers, which would enable us to store the fresh, more perishable produce, which needs to be kept at a particular temperature. This currently would otherwise be deemed unfit for human consumption and disposed of.  Any profits made from any events that we run ALL go directly to running the Food Bank more effectively.  In essence, this would allow the Food Bank to double the amount of food they could divert from surplus and help support more people in need.  Since April 2017, our Community Food Bank has given out 17.6 TONNES of food and so stopped this good food going to landfill.

We hope to be coming up with some new initiatives in 2018 and an idea we are exploring at the moment, to, again, help bridge the gap between food poverty and food waste, is something called:  Buy One, Feed One Free (BOFOF).  Watch this space ……

In a nutshell we need help to store and then move the surplus food to those most in need in the local community. Any help you can give to bring this about, would be very welcome.

Finally, A BIG THANK YOU goes to the fantastic group of dedicated Volunteers from St Saviour’s, without whose help none of the above would happen.  

Many thanks also to all those in the local community who have given us their support and to all the other groups that have helped in 2017. Unfortunately, there is a lot of need in the community and most of it is still unseen.

Claire Hopkins Social Transformation Pastor


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