Ballymena Foodbank Offers Lifeline
Ballymena Foodbank offers a vital, short term lifeline to many whose lives have been impacted by a range of financial issues. These include job losses, cuts to working hours, low income, changes to their social security payments or other situations where income to the house has significantly dropped. It seems unthinkable that in the 21st century there are people in our own locality who are unable to afford to feed themselves and their families, yet for nearly four years, Ballymena Foodbank has been helping many local families to literally put food on the table.
Ballymena Foodbank is one of a network of similar projects operated by the Trussell Trust across the United Kingdom. It is facilitated by Green Pastures Church in Galgorm, who kindly allow the project to operate from their premises. The foodbank is for eligible members of the entire community – you do not have to be a member of Green Pastures to use it.
- Ballymena Foodbank at Green Pastures is run by Mandy Frew and her team of ten committed volunteers and it is open from 11.00am-1.00pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- A satellite centre for the Foodbank in Ballymena is at Ballyloughan Church, which is open on Thursday 10.00 – 12.00 and is run by Karen Scott.
Clients are referred to the programme by a range of agencies including GPs, Social Workers or charitable organisations such as the Simon Community.
Every person who is given access to the Foodbank receives three ‘vouchers’, each one entitles them to a three-day supply of food.
Says Mandy: “We have a ‘tick list’ which has been devised by a nutritionist; the majority of items that we get are dried or tinned and non-perishable. We are talking about beans, pasta sauces, tinned meats, vegetables, cereals as well as sugar, tea and coffee.”
“People have also been good enough to give us extra, which would include items for children, sweets, crisps, Cuppa soups as well as milk and lemonade.”
She went on to say: “We have recently started bringing in items like washing up liquid, washing powder, fabric softeners, toiletries and even nappies because these are very expensive to buy.”
Mandy is also keen to stress that the Foodbank exists to provide people with help through an emergency crisis on a short term basis. Where longer term help is required, the volunteers will to their best to signpost clients to organisations who can offer more sustainable support.
Often, people who use the Foodbank have lost their job, are struggling to pay essential bills and are at their lowest ebb. However, each of the Foodbank volunteers have been through similar experiences and do their best to put clients at ease.
Mandy explains: “Whenever people come in, we make sure to welcome them, give them a cup of tea and chat to them. Once they talk to us and see that we are normal human beings who need help and we are here to provide it, it’s as simple as that.”
Ballymena Foodbank depends on the public’s generosity.
All the supplies given out by the Foodbank in Ballymena are generously donated by the public; there is a permanent collection point at Tesco in the town and two special collections per year take place there.
Numerous churches in the town also collect food and deliver it to the Bank’s main base at Green Pastures:
“We would like to thank everybody for their continued donations; people are so faithful and we could not do without them. We are very, very grateful; please continue to support us because it is very much needed.”
If you are a medical, caring or other professional working for a charitable organization and would like to act as a referral agency for Ballymena Foodbank please get in touch with the team by ringing Green Pastures Church, Galgorm on 02825 65 0123. Alternatively, if you would like to donate food or other appropriate items, you can leave these at Tesco, Green Pastures church or any of the other collection points.