The 10 Year Journey of Bevendean Food Bank

From Bevendean Food Bank

Did you know that Bevendean Foodbank has now been around for more than 10 years?

Whilst it’s difficult to celebrate something like a foodbank, we would love to share our journey from past to present, celebrate the many volunteers past and present and every supporter along the way.

In 2011, local residents together with the Bevendean Community Worker discussed the idea of starting a Food Bank for the local area. They applied to the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership for a grant of £800 to cover the cost of the food which would come from FareShare. Bevendean was one of the few neighbourhood run foodbanks across the city then.

At the start there was plenty of food delivered by FareShare every week, but once more foodbanks opened, this soon had to reduce. The volunteers were always supported by their local community worker. People from Bevendean, Moulsecoomb & Meadowview, but also neighbourhoods along Lewes Road between the bottom of Coldean Lane and Saunders Park attended the Food Bank to help use the surplus food from FareShare.   It wasn’t long before it was necessary to start a referral system, so the residents who were struggling the most were the ones accessing the food.  They also had the support of many advisors who attended the Food Bank.

The main focus in the beginning wasn’t necessarily the emergency food provided to community members, it was also a space to meet friends & neighbours and make connections with others, as well as vital city-wide services and community activity provision. The Coffee Morning was for a long time a key place to meet on a Wednesday morning in Bevendean. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic in 2020, the doors had to close and the focus was suddenly very much on providing more emergency food to more people very quickly. It’s due to a determined group of volunteer packers, drivers and the support of funders, councillors, other local community groups, donations, community workers and the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership that the steep increase in demand was met at all. Within 4 weeks, the volunteers went from packing food for a maximum of 22 households to packing food for 70 households and delivering it. A mighty feat for any small community group.

The demand was relieved once another food project – the affordable Moulsecoomb Community Market – started at St George’s Hall and the community members in need of support benefitted from receiving food local to their homes.

Rolling from the Covid-19 crisis into a cost-of-living crisis was to be expected and the demand never went back to the pre-pandemic numbers. In 2022 however, we saw another spike coming and went from 25 households back to almost 40 households in 2023.

There is a lot to celebrate: donations, funding, support and volunteers, but there is only so much capacity a neighbourhood project can tackle. On top of our yearly FareShare
membership of £1250 and the hire of the hall at £1350, we also purchase up to £150 worth of special food items a week now to meet the demand. One of our biggest issues is the lack of space to store the food.

Pairing these issues with our wish to bring back the community coffee morning where people can meet, chat, get information and have a warm drink, the committee has decided to change how we run the foodbank, but still be able to make a sturdy food offer under ever increasing pressure. From March, the foodbank will support its attendees fortnightly, which means more can be given out to families, we create more capacity for future demand and we have more time to pack and run the foodbank in a less hectic way, which benefits both recipients and volunteers.

How Can You Help?

If you receive food from the foodbank, please remember to support us by bringing your own bags and £1 donation if you can. Also helpful is if you bring any food items back if you don’t use them. Please let us know in advance if you can’t make it so your food doesn’t go to waste!

We are always very grateful to receive monetary or food donations. Please contact us if you want to find out more: [email protected]

If you have free time on a Wednesday morning, why not join and support our fabulous volunteer team? 

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