Welcome stores position themselves at the heart of the community – and we understand the part we have to play in giving back to those who shop with us and live and work around us.
Built on challenging times
One of the organisations we work with is the Eastleigh Basics Bank, which started in May 2011 after the Churches of Eastleigh, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak recognised there may be a shortage of essentials in the area following the 2008 crash. As the years went on, it has become apparent the need was far greater than they could have anticipated!
Since 2011, the church-led community foodbank and other basics project has constantly changed and adapted to whatever circumstances the community are facing. Right now, it’s the cost-of-living crisis that is pulling on the Eastleigh foodbank’s resources, but in previous years it’s been recessions and of course the pandemic.
Pre-covid, there was space and time to offer a cup of tea or coffee and someone to chat with clients, whilst they waited for their package to be made up. However, since covid and with the continued growth in demand they’ve had to use that space for ensuring food is packed ready for clients to collect as soon as they arrive. It is one of their top priorities over the coming year to find a way to offer that safe space to talk and have a coffee again as they believe it is as important as the food and essentials itself.
A community resource through and through
People need to be referred to the foodbank by partner agencies; housing associations, councils, social services, NHS, schools, churches and various local charities, many of whom have an ongoing connection with those they refer so understand their circumstances.
Eastleigh Basics Bank is very focused on meeting the physical needs of the community, but they very much see themselves as an emergency support, as opposed to dependency support. That’s why they operate a referral system, so that where possible they can also provide links to services locally that might help people with more long-term solutions to any challenges they might be facing.
There are several misconceptions surrounding foodbanks that might surprise you.
1. Tinned foods are not always right! At one point, Eastleigh Basics Bank were actually turning away donations of baked beans because they had more than they knew what to do with. They keep an up-to-date shopping list on their website – so if you are considering making a donation, check here first! You might have some of these lurking in your cupboards already.
2. A lot of people who use foodbanks are in full-time work. It’s a sad fact that costs have increased so much, many visitors that use the foodbank are successful in their careers but just don’t quite have enough left to feed themselves, however;
3. Many people rarely have to use a foodbank regularly. There’s a common misconception that people come back week after week and this is rare. In fact, Eastleigh Basics Bank is more likely to hear stories from people who come back to tell them how they’ve got back on their feet and are grateful for the help given when they’ve needed it.
Chilly weather… and chinchilla food?
As you’d expect, the busiest time of year at the foodbank is during the winter. Energy bills increase as lights go on for longer and we switch the heating on – and some people can struggle to cope.
Perhaps what you may not expect, is that feeding humans is a given – but people need to feed their pets too! Once, the Eastleigh Basics Bank was asked if they had any chinchilla food that they could have, but also, odd things are donated on occasion – so when they come in, they are put on a front table for people to help themselves to!
To donate to Eastleigh Basics Bank, you can do so using the PayPal link here, but you can also donate food at the collection points at your local Welcome store.