Why do we do what we do?
Our foodbank is a project founded by local churches and community groups, working together towards stopping hunger in our local area.
We run 5 centres, which means we have one open each day from Tuesdays through to Saturdays.
Over 7 years ago a friend came to us and said “I’ve just started a foodbank in Kingston and the impact has been huge. You should come and have a look and see if there is a need in Epsom & Ewell.”
After research and discussions with local agencies, visiting foodbanks already set up - including Kingston – we held a public meeting in July 2012 and to our amazement over 70 people turned up, people from all walks of life who were interested. The majority were supportive but in disbelief of the need. A few just dismissed the idea saying that ‘nobody in Epsom & Ewell goes to bed hungry at night’. Unfortunately we were able to disprove that theory as people were already being referred to Kingston foodbank from agencies in Epsom due to the need and lack of service at our end.
We opened in October 2012 with one centre in Ewell and one in Epsom, we then added Leatherhead and Tadworth in September 2013, and finally Banstead in November 2014. Since we opened we have seen a steady increase in need. We have now fed more than 20,000 since we opened. In 2019 we fed more than 5,300 people.
We generate approximately 200 hours of volunteering a week and have an amazing band of people who help out in so many different ways. We run from a Christian ethos but have people from all walks of life involved at all levels. It’s an amazing testament of the community working together, local people, churches, agencies, businesses and schools all doing their part.
To say that we are closing our doors due to the lack of need for our services would be fantastic, unfortunately we cannot see that happening soon, as more changes, caps to benefit and other economic hardships continue to hit local people hard.
What’s next and what’s the future plan?
The 42% increase we saw in 2019 drives us on even more to address the root causes of poverty. In 2019 we launched a new initiative called a Poverty Truth Commission. This is based on allowing people in poverty to tell their story so that we can begin to look at the causes and how to address them, leading hopefully to a foodbank exit strategy.
Moving forward, there are plenty of hills to climb and people to feed but based on the previous 7 years it will be exciting and rewarding as we are able to support people to move out of food poverty.