Thanks to all of our wonderful Donors in 2023!

Dear Donors

After another busy year at North Guildford Food Bank we want to thank you so much for the support you have provided us in the past year. We have so many donors who give either produce or financial support and without you all, we would not have been able to serve the number of people we did in 2023. 

  • Our statistics summarise our work in 2023. We have provided 1,709 food parcels, feeding 2,669 adults and 2072 children. This was a small increase of 43 parcels from the previous year.

  • The main reasons for needing help this year were unemployment and debt. Our main referrers were Guildford Borough Council, Home School Link Workers and Citizens Advice.

  • Since early 2023 we have no longer needed to provide funding for fuel vouchers, but instead, we partner with The Fuel Bank Foundation which is a charitable organisation. We refer our clients on prepayment meters who are in fuel poverty to the Fuel Bank Foundation and they provide fuel vouchers. The value of these vouchers varies depending on the time of year, but the aim is to provide sufficient fuel funding to last the household a week. 
  • Guildford Council Wellbeing team is continuing to provide a driver and van on Wednesdays to take parcels to clients who need them to be delivered and we have volunteer drivers to do deliveries on other days for clients who are housebound. Robin (GBC) is also very helpful in bringing boxes from supermarkets for us to pack parcels into. 

Christmas 2023

  • In the two weeks before Christmas we saw demand like never before and in December served 306 clients, compared to 200 in December last year. We are blessed to have some reserves in the bank so that we were able to buy more stock,  in addition to food donations, which was needed on an almost daily basis. Our monthly spend on food more than doubled in December and our healthy stock levels were reduced to nothing for many foods. 
  • As last year, we increased our regular client sessions from three to four per week for the two weeks before Christmas. Due to the large numbers of clients, our volunteers started packing food parcels much earlier than normal and when demand was highest, we staggered client arrival times.

  • We also provided Tesco vouchers to our clients in December, in addition to their food parcels, giving them the opportunity to buy extra items for their families over Christmas. 
  • We are very thankful for Guildford Lions who continue to buy eggs, potatoes and carrots for us each week. They have been so supportive, even when we had such an increase in demand. 
  • We are in the process of building our stocks and reserves up again, so please look on our Facebook page and website for our weekly requests. We are also so thankful to those of you who donate financially to the food bank as food donations alone are not sufficient to meet the needs of the number of clients who are being referred to us.

Volunteers and St Clare’s

  • Our team of volunteers continues to grow and it is such a joy to work alongside so many caring, compassionate and hardworking people. We currently have close to 100 volunteers. 
  • We would also like to thank St Clare’s church for continuing to host us. It is such a lovely space for our clients to come to to collect their food parcels and having a permanent place for food storage is a wonderful blessing.

  • We would also like to thank MMRG for providing us with space in their offices, so that our Administrator Annie and new manager Jessica have a warm, comfortable and collaborative space to work in. 

Operations and Governance

  • This year Jo stepped down as our Interim Coordinator and Chair of Trustees. Jo’s passion for the work of the food bank has helped us through a tricky couple of years and we are extremely grateful for all she has done and we are delighted she is continuing as one of our team leaders and is also an invaluable member of the Monday “sort” team.

  • We will say a fond farewell to Les from our board of Trustees this month. He has kindly stayed with us this year to ensure that our new Treasurer, Sarah is fully up to speed. We are thankful for the 11 years of faithful service Les has given to the food bank.  
  • Geoff is our new chair of trustees and brings with him some great connections from his work in the Diocese. Clive has also joined us as a Trustee in 2023 and brings another fresh pair of eyes to our work. 
  • Our employee numbers doubled in October 2023, when Jessica joined North Guildford Food Bank as Manager. Her role is to ensure that the food bank can continue on a sustainable footing into the future. Her role as manager also includes many of the coordination tasks that Jo used to do. 
  • Jessica has been working closely with the team leaders and other volunteers to understand the workings of the food bank and where they can see improvements we can make. One of our objectives is to try and reach more people in need and we are doing this by building on our relationships with our referral agencies and making North Guildford Food Bank more visible in the community. 

With all of the above in mind, your giving is more important than ever, so thank you.

Please share this information with any family and friends who you think may be interested in supporting our work. 

Wishing you a blessed year.

With thanks from the Food Bank team.

New Donation Point – Sainsbury’s Local, East Horsley

Hi Everyone, many thanks again for your continued support. We are just letting you know that we now have a new donation point at the new Sainsbury’s local in East Horsley.

Many thanks again to all of you who donate, we couldn’t do it without you!

January 2023

To all our supporters

We wanted to thank you for your generous support over the past year, and to give you an up-date on the Food Bank in 2022. As you can imagine, it was another busy year for us – but thanks to a huge team of dedicated volunteers, and to the generosity of donors, we have been able to continue to meet the needs of clients who come to us for emergency help.

I’m sure that most of you know that we remain based at St Clare’s Church in Park Barn. We are very grateful for the continued use of the Church as our expanded base.  A particular mention also needs to be made to the Guildford Lions who buy in eggs, potatoes & carrots for us each week. This is a huge commitment – with client numbers and costs increasing so significantly. Last year we also benefited from a huge donation of food from Southern Co-op when they took over the store at the garage on Woodbridge Road – as well as from loyal customers who donate at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, from churches, schools, businesses and individuals. We have needed and greatly appreciate support from you all.  Thank you!

We provided food for 5181 people last year (2711 adults & 2470 children), up from 5061 in 2021. The top reason given for needing help was unemployment, followed by debt and benefits delays, cuts and sickness, and our top referring agencies were Home School Link Workers, followed by Guildford and Surrey Councils. Money spent on making fuel payments (to clients on prepayment metres) also rose to £57,494. 

We have made a number of changes this year in order to continue to support the numbers of clients coming to us for help, and to ensure the charity is sustainable going forward. The most significant are as follows:  

• We have consolidated our base at St Clare’s, closing our base at Merrow. This wasn’t done lightly – but a review of clients showed that demand for collection from the Bushy Hill centre over the past 6-9 months was so limited that it did not justify keeping the branch open. We are grateful for Mariah and her team for running the branch for so long. We continue to support Merrow clients from St Clares, and deliver parcels to Merrow if necessary.

• We appointed our first paid part-time employee to help us with administration. Thanks to the Lighthouse for supporting us in this. We are delighted to have Annie now in position, and proving to be a great help!

• We are encouraging clients to come and collect their food parcels from us.  We provide free tea, coffee, cake and a listening ear when they pick up (and often welcome in others who like to drop in for a chat). The café is much appreciated by clients, and we are able to signpost other sources of support at these sessions if needed – though of course no one is obliged to stay

• Guildford Council Wellbeing team is continuing to provide a driver and van on Wednesdays to take parcels to clients who need them to be delivered, and we have drivers to do deliveries on other days if collection isn’t possible

• We have recently changed providers for the fuel top-ups to the Fuel Bank Foundation. The provision of top-ups to clients with prepayment metres is quite a complex, time-consuming job – and the cost of administering it under the original set up was increasing. The switch should reduce costs and simplify the process for our dedicated fuel team – who do a fantastic job

• Jo has continued to be our Interim Coordinator. However, our Treasurer, Les (who has been involved since we were founded), is standing down in 2023. One of our current Team leaders (Sarah) is stepping up into the role in the next few weeks.  We are very grateful to Les for his many years of expertise and support – and to Sarah for taking the role on.  

Rest assured that we will continue to reassess what we do & how we do it going forward of course – recognising the objects of the charity in providing relief of financial hardship in our town and surrounding villages.

However, it is clear that the need for the Food Bank continues – and indeed we think it is likely to increase in the year ahead – so we are hugely thankful for the support we have received.  We could not continue to operate without you… so thank you once again.
May we wish you well in 2023.

With thanks from the Foodbank team

January 2021

To all our supporters

We are hugely grateful to everyone who has supported us over the last year. The last 9 months in particular have been an extremely busy time for us, and we have had to be agile about amending our processes to carry on providing food throughout. 

Thanks to a huge team of very dedicated volunteers and to many generous donors, we have been able to continue seamlessly through the Covid crisis, and in fact have been able to be more generous in our parcels so that they last for closer to a week and now include some fresh items such as bread, cheese, milk and butter (carrots, potatoes and eggs were already part of our pack).  

Demand for parcels was huge at the beginning of lockdown when we were giving out more than 3 times our pre-Covid average.  Since then, things have calmed down with other projects around the town which were put in place, so that in general we’ve been about 2 times busier than usual. There is a chart below which shows the monthly figures compared to last year.

Over Christmas we organised and put together a special additional bag for each household filled with Christmas treats donated by local schools, businesses, community groups, churches & individuals.  We were also able to include a supermarket voucher for everyone in these bags which clients have been hugely grateful for.  Below, you will also find some excerpts of thank you emails and texts which we received from clients over the Christmas period.

It is the generosity of local people, together with some funding that we’ve been awarded, that allow us to confidently continue to provide for people who are struggling at the moment, and we are hugely grateful for the level of support we’ve received.  

May we wish you well in 2021.

Heather & all the Foodbank team

Thank yous over Christmas 2020:

‘Thank you to all that was involved in the delivery of food items and the voucher, that I shall use to buy meat for my Christmas dinner. I appreciate your kind help.’

‘Thank you so much for the food and bits and the voucher you have no idea how grateful me and my girls are.’

‘I just received a food parcel from you. I would like to say a massive thank you it was really really well needed and after the year that we’ve all had, I can actually have a sensible Christmas so I want to say thank you to you and the team at St. Clare’s for all the hard work that you’re all doing the local community I wish you all a very happy Christmas lots of loves and prayers.”

“ I just opened the Christmas card that you sent me. I forgot about it last night and put it up on the shelf and I’ve just opened it to find I have a £30 Tesco voucher. Thank you so so much from the bottom of my heart. “

‘I am emailing you to say a massive thank you for the package that you sent me at Christmas, it helped me a lot and made me feel like someone cared for me over the Christmas period. I massively appreciate it.’