Friday 23 August 2019

Huge response to new food bank

Mary O’Hara, Anthony Dwyer and Ruth Redmond at the Stop Gap food bank at The Heath, Ramsgate Village
Mary O’Hara, Anthony Dwyer and Ruth Redmond at the Stop Gap food bank at The Heath, Ramsgate Village

Cathy Lee

Gorey's Stop Gap food bank has proved to be a popular resource for the people of the area in the last three weeks that it has been in operation, set up by volunteers of Gorey Christian Assembly.

With about 60 people coming along to take a food parcel or just stay around for a cup of tea and a chat at last week's meeting, organiser Matthew Shanks explained that it is a much needed local resource that his team are providing.

'For families in need, summer can be a difficult time financially with preparing to go back to school, and accessing help to feed children for a day is important. We've had several cases of people who had nothing left in their cupboards at home and we may be only giving them enough to keep people going for a day or two, but at least it's something. Really we want to make people aware that if they need to access a food bank, to access their own local one,' he said.

Matthew said that the group researched for some months before setting up, and it was appropriate to get it right.

'This is a trail for a few months so we wanted to wait until we had everything lined up, getting charities and local stores on board is part of that. We have close links to a church in the west of Ireland and they have a food bank. We visited them to see how they did it, and through that we hope we have found a model that works. From our research we were aware that this type of poverty was a problem, but it's multi-factorial and we are not coming from a political point of view. We hope over time when we get to know people, that we can refer them to other agencies in the community that they may need. Over time through that we'll discover reasons why a food bank like this is needed I suppose, but the fact that we've had several dozen families and individuals come to us, that tells you something about the reality of the need that is out there,' he said.

Matthew explained that this service is not just for the hungry, but also for those suffering due to problems associated with social isolation.

'We're only starting out but it's good that we're in a position to help those in need. For people who are lonely, it's an opportunity to have somewhere different to come and get talking. We're pleasant, polite and kind to them and offer a bit of company,' he said.

Matthew explained that there are no strings attached to taking a food parcel or coming along, but as a Christian church they are aware of the bible stories of Jesus helping people and they are trying to follow his example.

Since starting up the food bank, Matthew and his team of 12 to 15 volunteers have been looking at ways of getting food from the European aid programme, as well as the charity FoodCloud and are hoping to make further connections with supermarkets locally going forward.

'We're in the process of getting that sorted out but at the moment we are making weekly contact about fresh goods like fruit, vegetables, bread and pastries through Foodcloud, and it lets us know that they have food to donate from the shops,' said Matthew.

The food bank takes place weekly throughout the summer every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Gorey Christian Assembly Building at the Heath, Ramsgate Village in Gorey and all are welcome to attend for free.

For more information phone 083 1270026 or 087 251 1933.

Gorey Guardian