Friday, 19 April 2024
Friday, 19 April 2024

New partnership helps groups that bring people together through food

MORE than £33,000 has been distributed by Wiltshire Community Foundation to small charities and voluntary groups in Swindon and Wiltshire thanks to a new partnership with Anchor Butter.

Anchor Butter has joined forces with UK Community Foundations, the umbrella organisation of which Wiltshire Community Foundation is a member and donated £100,000 to establish the Anchor Community Connection Fund. Alongside two other foundations, Wiltshire has been selected to distribute these funds to support groups that use food to bring people together and strengthen local connections. 

Among the groups in Swindon and Wiltshire to receive funding is Swindon Night Shelter. It will use a £5,000 grant to support its work with rough sleepers and those in accommodation at risk of losing it. It provides a drop-in and winter shelter in Queen’s Drive, Swindon, where guests can get a hot meal, food parcels, access to medical and housing advice and, just as importantly, a friendly welcome and a listening ear.

Manager Carol Martin said the grant will help the group contend with rising costs. “We are really grateful for this support, we will use the grant for staffing costs for one of our cook/support workers. The food we provide our guests comes mainly from the charitable surplus we collect and we also order food from Fareshare for a monthly charge for 50kg of food delivered weekly.”

The Harbour Project in Broad Street Swindon, which supports refugees and asylum seekers, will use a £3,430 grant to buy food for its regular drop-ins. The charity has more than 30 different nationalities visiting regularly for help and advice with adapting to life in the UK.

Chief executive Claire Garrett said: “This money is very welcome. Eating together and sharing food –  and the stories and memories that go with this –  is such an important part of life. We also have an emergency supply of food items for people who are really struggling. We work closely with the Swindon Food Collective and receive donations from churches and schools, but occasionally we have to buy items to keep us topped up.”

The Recovery Tree in Swindon, whose Twigs garden centre and Olive Tree community café provide vital work placement and therapy for people suffering from mental health issues, will use a £4,480 grant to help run two projects – a bakery and a mobile pizza oven. 

Trustee Gillian Barber said the bakery runs once a week involving six volunteers on placements at its Pinecones community café in Pinehurst. The bread and cakes they bake is sold at affordable prices through a Community Hub in Penhill. “It’s great to have the support because we want to increase the number of days we do the baking and make connections with new customers,” said Mrs Barber. “The bakery is a really nice quiet space for those people who aren’t yet ready to work in our café and they get a lot of satisfaction from producing lovely bread and knowing that it is so appreciated by our customers.”

The mobile pizza oven was bought by North Swindon Parish Council but Recovery Tree café manager Phyllida Richards accompanies a youth worker to take it around to youth groups across the area. “It’s a brilliant way to bring young people together and get them talking,” said Mrs Barber.

A £2,000 grant will help St John’s Honeypot Day Centre continue providing a hot meal for more than 30 older and isolated people in Trowbridge. They meet at the church hall for food, activities and a chance to chat said trustee David Lewis.

“The grant will ensure that we can continue to provide a hot, nutritionally balanced meal,” he said. “Gathering for a meal like this may be the only social interaction they have and it serves as a time for people to feel part of things instead of outside things.

“With appropriate monitoring and exercise, people are able to avoid the pitfalls of isolation which include poor mental health and physical mobility. People that attend St John’s Honeypot will tend to be happier, healthier and in need of less social care from the NHS.”

Trowbridge Future has been awarded £4,850 towards staffing and the refurbishment of the kitchen Seymour Hub, where it runs a community fridge to hold regular cookery sessions and provide meals for families and isolated people and families in Longfield, Seymour and Studley Green.

“We aim to create a stronger, vibrant sense of community where residents have pride in their communities and the confidence to identify issues they face and come together to address them,” youth and community development manager Meg Aubrey said. “We are looking to run a monthly fish and chip Friday where community members can come and enjoy a meal together. We also plan to run cooking courses for young people to increase their skills and confidence.”

Doorway Project in Chippenham has been awarded £2,880 towards the running of its women’s group at The Citadel. Jo Kitching, director of the homeless charity, said the money would help provide food and support for women who are either rough sleepers or are vulnerable in their accommodation.

“The women benefit initially from confidence building and making new friends with people who are living with similar challenges,” she said. “The conversations generated around meal tables and activities can help people to express their needs and identify issues enabling staff and volunteers to help then access the support they need.”

A £2,645 grant to Westbury and Warminster Youth Clubs will help youth worker Beth Mullins organise events that use food to encourage young people from low-income families to attend. In Westbury, she will run a series of cookery classes. “There is limited access to cooking lessons in schools so the Westbury cooking course will teach the young people new life skills,” she said.

“It will allow them to cook healthier home-cooked meals that are cheaper than ready-made shop brought meals. We will also be giving them something to do and somewhere to go to make new friends and help with their mental well-being.”

The courses will culminate in a meal cooked by the young people for 60 invited parents and friends.

In Warminster, she plans a bake-off competition aimed at young people up to 19. “Cooking is a popular activity and young people have been asking to do more so this grant presents an ideal opportunity to act on their feedback,” she said.

Anchor spokesman Stuart Ibberson said: “Food has always been at the heart of community life in Britain and cooking and enjoying food should be accessible for everyone. This is why we’ve partnered with the UK Community Foundation to connect local communities and ensure that as many people as possible have access to cooking skills, food education and friendship. Through the partnership, we aim to spread a bit of food positivity in neighbourhoods across the nation.”

Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “We are delighted to be a member of this partnership and proud that Anchor is entrusting us to use its money where it will make the most impact. In the midst of the current crisis, access to healthy food as well as support, advice and companionship has never been more important so we are thankful that Anchor has chosen to do this.”

Find out more about Wiltshire Community Foundation’s work at wiltshirecf.org.uk.

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