Heart of England Co-operative Society Customers Raise £4,000 for Coventry Foodbank

Hugh McNeill, Project Manager of Coventry Foodbank (centre), with Jo Dyke, Community and Membership Adviser of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, and Clive Miles, President of the Society.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Customers of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, which operates a network of 33 food stores, including six in Coventry, have helped swell the coffers of the Coventry Foodbank by £4,000.

The money will help the thousands of Coventry people turning to the Trussell Trust which operates 17 foodbank centres across the city.

Hugh McNeill, Coventry Foodbank Project Manager, said although the foodbanks provide other goods such as toiletries and sanitary products, the money from the Society will be spent directly on food.

Whereas there is usually a surplus in goods such as beans and pasta, it is thought much of the money will be spent on goods such as tinned meat, tinned fish and rice puddings.

Launched seven years ago the Coventry Foodbank has fed 106,000 people in the city, reflecting almost a third of its population.

Over the past year, 49 per cent of people who have received aid have been single people, with the remaining 51 per cent all single parents, couples and families.

Last year Hugh and his team collected 140 tonnes of food, 90 per cent of which came from public donations.

Circumstances can vary – whereas many recipients are feeling the financial squeeze through the cuts in benefits, Hugh said there is also an emergence of working poor – people who cannot work enough hours, are on zero hours contracts or are on low pay.

He said: “Over the last year we have had almost a 25 per cent increase in the number of people who have come to us. From about 15,000 to almost 19,000. People are being squeezed.

“And with Universal Credit coming into Coventry in July this is a real worry. Most foodbanks elsewhere have seen a 20 to 25 per cent rise in their numbers and I’ve heard of one with an 84 per cent increase.

“Of course we’re hoping that’s not going to be the case for Coventry but we are still expecting a significant spike from July onwards.”

As well as providing food, Coventry Foodbank works in partnership with 340 agencies in the city which work with low income families and individuals, providing a range of services.

Also, its warehouse regularly attracts volunteers, many of whom have been helped by Coventry Foodbank in the past.

With more and more palletised deliveries, Coventry Foodbank has started training volunteers to use its own forklift truck. This in turn has led to four people gaining employment at the Foodbank warehouse.

The Foodbank is looking to go one step further and has teamed up with a forklift driving school.

The two will work together to create an apprenticeship scheme within the Foodbank, creating more employment opportunities at the warehouse.

Speaking of the Heart of England Co-operative Society’s donation Hugh added: “We would like to say a big thank you to everybody who has voted for us. We are delighted to receive £4,000 – the money will help us to make a huge difference to so many lives in Coventry and the support we can give to people who are in crisis, and we are extremely grateful. It is an amazing gesture.”

Ali Kurji, Chief Executive of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, added: “It is unbelievable that in this day and age there are hundreds of thousands of people across the UK who are regularly going hungry – sometimes going without food for days – to the point where they are having to turn to foodbanks to feed themselves or their families.

“Clearly this is a cause close to people’s hearts, and we would like to thank every one of our customers who took the time out to vote for Coventry Foodbank to receive £4,000 from our Society, through the sales of our 5p carrier bags.

“Such a small gesture from our shoppers will help make a huge difference to so many people in our city who at one point or another find themselves having to turn to the Foodbank to help tide them over.”

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