CHEADLE people and firms have shown very generous support, says Noel Clarke, who is chair and project co-ordinator of an able and enthusiastic committee.
For the Cheadle and District Foodbank to come into existence there had to be a group of keen high calibre volunteers; that has been achieved.
Training and the organising of rotas and roles is close to completing.
Many of these volunteers have also donated sums of money, from £5 to several hundreds of pounds.
One lady is using several rooms of her house as a temporary storage facility, while her daughter took three nurse friends out on a shopping spree for required food items, donating £60 each of their hard earned wages.
There also had to be suitable premises; this has also been achieved, as by Father Sandy, and the Guild Hall Committee’s, goodwill, part of the Guild Hall has been adjusted so that it can be used for two slots in the week as Foodbank premises.
Local joiner and artisan, Tony Lovatt, helped ably by his companion craftsman Gordon Shaw, gave up their time gratis to build in a large store cupboard in The Oakley Room and erect extra cabinets in its kitchen.
Private individuals donated money for the costs of the materials for this, while Andy Savage’s local firm, Elite Kitchens Bathrooms and Bedrooms, generously donated the not inconsiderable cost of the cabinets themselves.
Reverend Clarke adds that a third ingredient has to be agencies, government and private, plus charities.
These come across the individuals and family members who have suddenly suffered a number of occurrences that have had the end result of them having no money to buy food.
These agencies and charities will assess each case; then they may refer them on to the Cheadle and District Foodbank for a carefully worked-out set of bags of food, to help them (and their children) get through this crisis.
Where more than two visits by a person or family is required, then the referees are contacted by the foodbank to see if these clients can be directed on to more helpful expert advice, for their own sake and that of the community at large.
A large group of such support agencies, from teachers to support charities, from local government groups to medical staff, from schools to the police, met for a buffet lunch on Wednesday December 12 at the freely offered Cheadle Methodist Hall and heard Anne Danks speak.
She has now been promoted to the responsible task of managing the whole of the north of England for the Trussell Trust, and she explained how the Foodbank works, and how it is reliant (and so are those in such desperate need) on such agencies referring qualifying applicants for food to the foodbank.
The Methodist ladies supplied the luncheon with donated food from individuals and local stores, giving up their time and skills so that it was no cost to the funds (in fact left over cakes were sold so that a profit was made.
The fourth aspect of what is required is… money, for insurance has to be paid for, as do organisational aids like a computer, printer, scales, advertising displays, and the rent of the premises, heavily subsidised though it is.
Then there is the ongoing cost of the support of the Trussell Trust, plus the cost of shelving .
Apart from individual donations mentioned above, the Cheadle Town Council has granted £500 to this local project.
County Councillors Mark Deaville and Michael Worthington and the District Councillor Ron Locker have also supervised applications for grants from local government funds, and the processing of these is being carried out at present.
As well as this, local firms have been generous in sponsoring one or more week’s rent, as has New Haden Pumps and BEE Healthfoods.
Then the trustees of the employees’ fund for local charitable purposes at Alton Towers have granted a four figure sum and this has relieved the worry of meeting much of the ongoing monthly costs for the first year, which is the most expensive year.
The final piece to the jigsaw is food. Yes, without food the foodbank cannot help those without food! The local Cheadle Methodist Church, the St Giles the Abbott Church, the Catholic churches of St Thomas’ and St Giles, and recently the Pentecostal Church that meets in the Guild Hall on a Sunday are now regular collectors and providers of food to the Foodbank.
Others have just heard of this and have joined in, e.g. Gorsty Hill Methodist/URC Church of Tean.
Also, the biggest “club” in Cheadle, the U3A, has organised monthly collections.
Individuals from the Lions are getting involved too, e.g. one offering the use of his van for transporting loads of food.
But the supermarkets are proving crucial at this stage, as a rush is on to get stock up to the necessary level in the race to open as early as possible in the New Year before really bad weather adds to heating bills and means the choice can have to be made between heating or eating.
There was a collection on a recent Sunday at one of the large Tesco stores, where several hundred kilos of food were gathered in, one young customer donating his pocket money to the cause, while another lady had the person on the till in tears as she left a full trolley of food for the Foodbank, quietly easing her way away as she did not want any recognition.
And there are three days of collecting food granted by ASDA for late December 27 and 28, the last two of those being by the local store.
After that, there will be a day long collection at Morrisons, with management support, on January 18.
Volunteers are giving up their time at this busy time of the year and collecting because they realise that without a food store of considerable size those in need of their services will be let down.
When it is realised that Newcastle-under-Lyme last month fed around 150 per week and Leek another 50 per week, then it is easy to see why so much food is needed and how there is a local hidden need here.
The upshot: Cheadle and District Foodbank has premises being finalised, has volunteers, has the support of agencies and charities, has money, but needs more food now.
Barclays Bank in High Street one end of the car park will have a drop-off point within it from this week for items of food, as will Elite KBB the other side of the car park, across the road from the police station.
If the general public want to join in this local venture at this time of goodwill to all including those in an emergency situation of having nothing to eat while most are thinking of tucking into seasonal fare, then the plea is purchase one extra item in your larger shopping expedition and put it in one of those drop off points.
The local Foodbank will be thankful, but those needing it will be truly thankful from the heart.