A look inside the workings of Fylde’s Foodbank

Fylde Foodbank in St Albans Road, St Annes.
Fylde Foodbank in St Albans Road, St Annes.

Despite being the last district in Lancashire to see a foodbank open, one Fylde Foodbank trustee has a dream – of seeing it become the first in the county to be no longer needed.

Fylde Foodbank opened in September 2014 and since then has seen a steady increase in the amount of people using its services.

Since opening, foodbanks in Fylde have supplied agencies with 829 vouchers with 292 of them fulfilled and used by residents.

The parcels have fed 416 adults and 270 children in less than six months.

Christine Miller, a founding member and trustee of Fylde Foodbank believes there is a false image of people who get help from them.

She said: “People who come to foodbanks not just here, but across the country, do not want to be here and the moment they can get back on their feet they stop coming.

“We always have a flurry of people arriving late afternoon, just before closing time as it’s almost like they have tried to put it off all day.

“No matter what, we make people feel welcome and treat them with respect.”

Fylde Foodbank works through a system where agencies that work with it are handed vouchers to give out on a needs assessment basis.

Currently there are 39 agencies affiliated in the borough that encompass Social Services, children centres, the town hall and various churches, among others. Fylde Foodbank only became a registered charity on September 30 last year, but Christine and volunteers have already seen a steady rise in the amount of people relying on them for support.

Christine feels most people who arrive on their door step now are isolated and too embarrassed to ask family who do not live locally.

She said: “I think a big reason for this is the loss of a family support network.

“When I was a small girl, I remember my auntie living around the corner and another uncle living on the next street so there was a family around you to support you whenever in need.

“Even if it was just something as small as tin of soup, you still got something.”

Alongside the main food bank in St Annes, centres in Kirkham and Warton now mean that people in Fylde can effectively receive help every week day. St Annes is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kirkham on Monday and Fridays and St Paul’s Church in Warton is then open on Wednesdays.

The organisation has a policy of not allowing people to cash in more than three vouchers in six months.

Christine said: “We have a responsibility to give to those in the greatest need but they need to help themselves. The food banks are not a long-term sustainable solution.”

One parcel supplies enough food for three days.

The parcels include a number of non-perishable items such as soup, baked beans, pasta, tinned meat and rice pudding.

But Christine now wants food banks to become a thing of the past, no matter how long it may take for that to become a reality.

She said: “Fylde is the last district in Lancashire to set up a food bank and my ambition is the for it to be the first to close down. However, while there is a need in Fylde, this organisation will continue to stay open even if key volunteers move away, there is enough passion in the organisation to carry on.”

Christine and her small team of volunteers first began their work in September 2013 after identifying a number of people regularly attending the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Kirkham in need of help.

She said: “A small group of people including myself set up a board of trustees to help and we were taking items in the boot of our cars to people. People who come here to volunteer have a community calling, they want to put something back into Fylde.

“Usually they are retired people who have worked in the area and still have something to offer.”