Updated: Jan 14
What a great visit on Tuesday to Hillingdon Food Bank the very first foodbank in London in 2009. Since then 83 other food banks have set up, some of which were supported by Hillingdon.
For me, it was an amazing visit to understand how the system of food banks works and my goodness do they serve or what !!
The picture I show is the distribution room, you don't see all of the shelves or bags, some more to the left and behind the camera. All of this stock will be distributed the next DAY to needy families. Vouchers from 200 partners (points of help from within the Hillingdon borough) serve some of the 250,000 residents needing assistance.
This first Foodbank was established in 2009 and has 5 main church partners, they have distribution points where clients are directed to go and exchange their vouchers for food parcels. Clients are referred to these distribution centres from the Hillingdon Foodbank central hub from the citizens advisory bureau, crisis support centres, unemployment offices, the Police and Social Services and many more besides. When families don't have anyone to turn to, they come here for food, love and support.
I had a tour, which took me into room after room of generous gifts from shoppers in supermarkets, from Harvest collections and Christmas food giving campaigns. I was told by the very able Carly, everyone seems to give pasta, but the real need is Tinned Veg and Tinned Fruit, which fly's off the shelves.
Food Bank is trying to strike a balance between, need in hugely challenging family circumstances and care, when food might not be enough. What I saw in the warehouse thousands of pounds of food stock, which then flows through to needy recipients regularly.
The volunteers are faithful, often retired, in between jobs, students or just friends of the project. The management staff - goodness me - did I meet Angels? All of this works together to produce a fourth emergency service for so many across the borough.
Of course, this 'rich' nation should not be in a position to need this kind of Charity, but it does. Much the same that the UK does not need CAP (Christians Against Poverty), or the Samaritans, ROC, PrayerLine, Barnardos and so, so many more frontline ministries to deal with need as a first-line defence.
If these ministries did not do their job well, crime would be higher, domestic violence would be higher, social service needs would swell and there would be a much higher burden on the NHS.
So I salute you Carly, the volunteers, Pastor Tunde for founding this, your effort, desire, and sheer compassion to show those in need, that others in Christ care, is an example we should all follow.
If ever you are able to visit a Foodbank and see how it works, understand the need around you, you should do so. I'll certainly be supporting my local food bank in Neath after this and will encourage you all to support your local one too.
The need is huge, but there is now an army of Christians doing what the Bible says to do, take care of the widows and orphans, pray for the sick amongst you, that this business of the Gospel would spread the resources we have with those most vulnerable in the community.
To get a glimpse of a miracle in action visit https://hillingdon.foodbank.org.uk/