Food banks are sadly becoming an important – and vital – part of our communities in Liverpool. For the next 12 months, Liverpool City Council’s Communications team will be shining a spotlight on the most used food bank in our city. We want to chronicle the daily reality for thousands of men, women and children across Liverpool.
There are 21 food banks across Liverpool supported by the Trussell Trust. Last year, they helped to feed nearly 20,000 people providing three-day food parcels.
St Andrew’s Church in Clubmoor is a lifeline for many. Beryl Bellew has been volunteering at this branch for the last eight years. She has witnessed first-hand the rising demand from those who can’t afford to feed their families or themselves.
Over the next 12 months Beryl will be sharing her food bank diary to give us a picture of a year in the life of St Andrew’s Food bank.
“In the run-up to
Christmas, the generosity of the public was amazing. On our final day before
the holidays, we were thrilled when two teachers and four children came in from
one of the local primary schools to deliver four bin bags full of food they had
“Everyone visiting the
food bank receives the same selection of items put together from a
The quantity varies according to the size of the family, so a single person would usually expect to receive two carrier bags of food. Over and above this we are sometimes able to give additional items of fresh veg, toiletries and bread.
Throughout December we saw some of our busiest times and January is proving to be as busy as anticipated.
Beryl Bellew from St Andrew’s Food bank
“Throughout December we
saw some of our busiest times and January is proving to be as busy as
anticipated. It seems to us that some are still struggling while waiting for
their Universal Credit to be sorted. Others have finished their temporary
Christmas work contracts and are needing help with food to tide them over until
they find more work or benefits kick in.
“The start to last
Friday was brightened by a huge bucket of beautiful daffodils brought in by our
van driver, donated by our local Marks and Spencer along with their regular
contribution of bread and pastries.
“So each of our visitors received a bunch of daffs and it’s surprising the conversations that started up. For example, the two lads living in a hostel who said they would brighten up their room. Then there was the lady who was reminded that daffs were her late mother’s favourite flowers and the man who would take the flowers to his mum’s grave as it was her birthday.”
When Beryl Bellew started out as one of the founding volunteers at the North Liverpool food bank, the team was given a cupboard in which to store the stock.
“We didn’t get anyone
coming through the door the first week we opened,” said Beryl. “But word
quickly got around and soon the small, dedicated team were looking to expand
A trickle of people and
families struggling to make ends meet and in need of a short-term pick-me-up
soon became a flood as austerity began to bite.
Eight years down the line and the North Liverpool food bank operates in 13 different locations across the north of the city. It provides life-saving food parcels every day of the week except Sunday.
Over the last year, we have seen an increase in the number of working people on low wages coming in for help
Beryl Bellew from St Andrew’s Food bank
And the demand for this
vital service shows no signs of slowing down. Last year the foodbank saw a 50
per cent increase in the number of referrals. Many say it was due to the
continued rollout of Universal Credit and the six-weeks-wait for the first
“A lot of people think
that those using foodbanks are unemployed,” said Beryl. “But over the last
year, we have seen an increase in the number of working people on low wages
coming in for help. We don’t have a lot of people who rely on the food bank,
for many we only see them once or twice. They need a little extra help to tide
them over and that can make all the difference when they don’t have anything to
As well as providing
food parcels, the St Andrew’s Community Network offers a whole host of other services
that support people to get back on their feet.
In a typical year, it
helps around a thousand people through its debt advice service. We are
talking about people who are forced into the frankly terrifying downward spiral
of robbing Peter to pay Paul that is relying on high-interest credit
cards to pay household bills.
Beryl and her foodbank
colleagues have been hard-pressed over the busy festive period and are now
bracing themselves for another tragically recording-breaking year.
St Andrews Church
remains the busiest of all the foodbank sites in North Liverpool, only
nowadays the operation is considerably larger than that first founding