• Help when you need it most

    We are here for anyone in an emergency situation: even if you are working. 

    Don't feel you cannot ask.

    For example, if you have had a sudden bereavement, loss of income, reduced work or a sanction imposed on your benefits we can help in an emergency situation. If your wages are low and a big bill needs paying and you have a choice to make between buying food or paying your bill that week - we can help.  

    You can get our vouchers from Citizens Advice, Swindon Borough Council, GP surgeries, School Welfare Officers or Receptionists, Health Visitors, Probation Workers and other voluntary agencies which you may have contact with. Or you can ring us on 01793 978045 for more information and advice.

  • Helping families in need

    A phone call late one Friday afternoon was a plea for help for a Swindon based family who had just had a bereavement. A young mother had died and the children's aunty and grandmother had accepted them into their home to care for them but they did not have enough food to feed them until their Social Worker had helped them claim benefits to support them all. Swindon Foodbank were happy to ensure they had enough food to see them through the first few days of what was a terribly sad situation.

  • Food or Fuel?

    Recently a family came into the town centre distribution centre because they were struggling and had to make the choice between having electric at home or food in the cupboard. This family left with several bags of food to tide them over and were extremely grateful and surprised how friendly the volunteers were and how relaxed the centre was. 

  • No car - no collection!

    A family from an outlying village desperately needed food for the family which has three children as well as mum and dad to feed but they couldn't get into town to collect the food from the distribution centre that was open that day. Boxes of food were delivered to them as they had no car and the bus fare would have meant extra expenditure that was not in their budget for this week. We were happy to help.

  • A Review on Our Facebook Page This July

    “I’ve never had to use Swindon Foodbank before but today I had no choice: Thankyou so much for the generosity it was more than I could have hoped for. I will definitely be donating when I’m back on my feet and will urge everyone I know to as well. Thankyou again i don’t know what id have done with out you xxxx”

    Reply: This is what you the reader are doing through us for your neighbours…

  • A Story From Our Distribution This Summer: "Help for Harry"

    We love dishing out cuddles and hugs and Harry wanted lots, (he's 18 months old) He had been looked after by dad for over 3 weeks as mum had been in hospital having a brain tumour removed. Thankfully, all had gone well, and she is now making good slow progress, but is unable to lift and care for her son. With no extended family, dad had had to have unpaid leave from work, and money soon disappeared. They had been put in touch with us through a childrens centre, and went home with enough to stock the cupboards, and some treats for all.

    The school holidays are always a challenging time for parents, but when money is in very limited supply, it makes it that much more difficult. Over the last couple of weeks, we have fed and supported quite a few families, helping to take a least some of the pressure off. and supplying a much needed  'big hug'.

  • Some of the people you have helped in June/July 2014

    Going into hospital in an emergency...

    is quite upsetting in its self, but finding that all your benefits have been stopped on your return, and you have no money
    or food leaves you very distressed. Terry found himself in that very position, his messages had not reached the correct people and he was quite destitute. So when he came along with his voucher, we were able to put a smile on his face, by listening to him, and supplying the food he needed.

    She'd been married for quite a few years...

    working hard to pay the bills, put food on thetable, and clothe the children, thinking her husband was doing his fair share, only to discover he had been gambling and they were in danger of losing their home. Very nearly at rock bottom,
    Dorcas was overwhelmed by the support of strangers, and could not thank us enough for the food she was able to have.

  • Client testimonials

    Jenny came to us for help because she had no one else to turn to – we were able to help her with a food parcel for her and her young family. This is what she wrote to us … “Thank You so much for the food parcel. Can you also say a huge Thank You to Andrew, I really and truly appreciate what you both have done for me. You don’t know how much it hurt to see Jonny (Jenny’s son) looking at the boxes and ask for beans for lunch. Just knowing that he found the beans and for him to ask had me in tears. I know to most people, they would say why is she upset over a tin of beans, but being in the situation I’m in and knowing that I cannot provide for my children … and you guys made that happen today. Once again I am truly thankful for your kindness, and generosity I can now make sure the boys can have tea tonight x”

    Amy is a single mum, in her mid 20’s. She arrived at our Distribution Point and she seemed very composed – she explained that she needed some food for her and her young daughter as although her benefits had changed several weeks ago, she hadn't received any money for 4 weeks. We talked to her for a few minutes and listened as she explained how she had spent most of her life in care and that she was so very lonely. The few members of her family that she had been close to had died a 2 or 3 years ago, and now, living on her own, she was having trouble with her neighbours, to the extent that it had affected her mental health. Her initial composure soon dissolved as she explained her difficulties. We were able to ‘signpost’ her to Swindon Borough Council. One of our volunteers has also kindly offered to ‘give her a call and keep in touch’. For someone that had no one in her life showing her any care or compassion, we were able to make ‘a real difference’ to Amy’s day.

  • Some of the People You Have Helped in March/April 2014

    Life can sometimes be just like a game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’

    … but for George it very much became a reality and not a game. He had worked hard and climbed the Ladders of Life, earning a £35,000+ salary, company car and nice house along the way. But suddenly his circumstances changed dramatically. The pressures of work increased, along with his stress levels, so much so that he was signed-off work. His benefits & allowances didn’t amount to enough and he quickly slumped … so followed a rapid fall down the Snakes of Life. He came to us homeless, having lost everything, but like so many of the clients we see, with a determination to get his life back on track. We were able to listen, chat and suggest ways to help – and most importantly give him enough food to last about 5 days.

    Martin stuck his head round the corner

    … looking for a familiar face at Distribution last week. He had spent quite a bit of time with us last year – we had got to know him well, helping him with food, toiletries and cups of tea. He was back in Swindon town centre and wanted to pop in to say ‘hello’ and let us know he was doing well. Just over a year ago, Martin had been sleeping rough in a tent in local woods, trying to sort-out his life since becoming a victim of domestic abuse. Our friends at Citizen’s Advice Bureau were able to offer him Foodbank vouchers, which is when we met him. We were there at just the right time to help him through a very difficult time.

    Planning a budget with a large family is difficult

    … but when money runs out it sometimes becomes impossible – there just isn’t enough to cover all the bills and buy food. Laura watched her parents struggle with this situation. They tried desperately to cope and were too embarrassed and ashamed to ask for help. Eventually Laura spoke to her college adviser which is when we came into the picture. With some food from Foodbank in the cupboards and suggestions of other agencies that could also help, the budget became manageable and the family was back ‘in a better place’.

  • Some of the People You Have Helped in Feb/March 2014

    For the sake of the kids:

    Billy was dressed-up as his favourite story book character and his brother Jimmy was in his pushchair, they were with their mum Michelle when she presented her voucher. A lovely family, with no food in the cupboard or fridge. Even though she has 2 children to look after, Jane has been told she has to apply for jobs every day. However, because she was judged not to be applying for enough jobs, her benefits were stopped! She really didn’t want to come to Foodbank for help, but knew that her children needed her to. We were able to put smiles on their faces with food, including some nice biscuits and a warm drink.

    A long walk but it was worth it:

    It was his hands I saw first, they were red raw and absolutely freezing. He had walked several miles to meet us at our town centre distribution point, as he didn't have the money for bus fare. A hot drink and some home-made cake soon revived Martin.His was a sad tale, illness, addiction and mental health issues, but he was making great progress now - and very determined to stay that way. He just needed a little help along the way and someone who cared enough to listen. So after a chat and another drink, we put a food parcel in his backpack, and we even managed to find some gloves, for his return walk home.

    Don’t be deceived by 1st impressions:

    The clothes were really good quality, make-up and hair immaculate - the outside appearance was very stylish, but Yvonne was like jelly inside. She had gone from being an independent women with a professional job and a nice home, to living in temporary accommodation with virtually just the clothes she wore. It all started when she had serious damp problems in her property, this rapidly affected her health,ruining a lot of her possessions and ultimately costing her, her job.When she came to see us,she was completely amazed that such a place existed, she was really touched and ‘had a little cry’ because we were able to show her that we cared.

  • Food and the listening ear

    Anonymous note left at Rainbow Bookshop: ‘This (food) donation is from a young lady who you have previously helped. She said she wanted to give something back. She didn’t want to leave her name, but I thought you would want to know you made a real difference!’

    Email received from ‘Charlie’: ‘First of all I would like to express my gratitude for the food that the food bank gave me today, I was even more humbled when chatting with one of your staff I found out that the food bank is a charity and everything you have is donated and staffed by volunteers. I didn't know what if any help social services would be able to give me and I’ve never had contact or knowledge of Food bank before today. I would like to offer my services as a volunteer so that I can give something back and help others in similar situations to myself.Could I ask that you add me to your mailing list for any future volunteer opportunities.Once again thank you so much for today.’

    Joe worked as an agency worker for a local organisation here in Swindon – he enjoyed his job and had been working for them for about 5 or 6 months, but had to go into hospital for a minor operation. He spoke to his employer and the agency beforehand and let them know he was going to be off for a few days. He was assured that as he was only going to be off-work for less than a week, and that his job would be ‘held open’ for him to come back to. He went back to his employers after his hospital visit, and was told that as he was an agency worker, the position had ‘gone’. We were able to listen to Joe’s ‘story’ over a cuppa and help him with a food parcel to feed himself and his 6 year old son.

    Emma (19 years old) was ‘thrown out’ of her parents’ home when she became pregnant. Her little girl is now 4 months old, but Emma suffers from a medical condition that has meant her younger sister has had to move into Emma’s flat too, to help look after the baby. When we met Emma she was deeply embarrassed about coming to Swindon Foodbank for help – we did our best to re-assure her that there is no shame in asking for help, particularly as she’s doing her best to look after her younger sister and baby. We were glad to be able to feed her and encourage her, even though our conversation with her was quite brief.

    Andy lost his job and company car in the last month. Due to domestic circumstances he also lost his home and access to his family, leaving him to sofa surf. When he first came to Foodbank he was extremely emotional and embarrassed to find himself in this situation. Whilst we were unable to solve many of his problems, we were able to give him food, a Christmas hamper and a listening ear.

    Mary, a reformed drug addict was claiming benefits. Whilst talking to her during a visit to Foodbank, it came to light that her partner had a terminal illness. Again we were able to offer her food, Christmas hamper and a listening ear. She asked if she could return again even without a voucher, just to talk. She only has a few friends and is afraid she will be drawn back into a previous lifestyle she has left behind. It is very special that we are able to offer ourselves in this way.

    The Smith Family came in with a voucher and whilst we were serving them the Jones family came in also with a voucher. It transpired that the two families were related but due to a family dispute had not seen each other for three years. Meeting at the Foodbank distribution centre enabled them to be reunited as a family.

    As the benefit reassessments, delays and cuts continue to leave people in desperate situations where they need to turn to other agencies like us for help we are seeing a further increase in the numbers coming to our Distribution Centres.

    There is also an increase in referrals from the Citizens Advice Bureau with more people finding themselves in financial difficulties pre Christmas.

    It is a priviledge to support these people in a small way during their crisis by providing food and a listening ear.

    Angie found herself with the custody of her five grandchildren aged between 5 and 17 years due to a difficult domestic situation.  She resisted coming to Foodbank as long as she could believing she should be able to cope on her own, but now we are able to stand alongside her and provide food as long as she needs it

    Charlie, in his mid fifties and recently released from prison was housed in Gloucestershire where he managed to get a job. Unfortunately the authorities decided to move him back to Wiltshire where he was originally based, so he has arrived in Swindon with no income, owning no more than the clothes on his back and currently outside the benefits system.

    Several students at local colleges have found the need to call on the help of Foodbank due to the delay in receiving their grants

  • People we have helped

    Peter's wife died two years ago leaving him with 3 young children. He had never expected to be bereaved so early in life and together with his wife they had made plans, bought a house and put down roots.  He had a good stable job which he has had to give up in order to look after the children. Two years on he is still grieving and he has used up all his resources, with no where else to turn. He came to the Distribution Centre very reluctantly and embarrased but holding a voucher. We were able to provide him with food, but also a listening ear for some 20 minutes or so. We hope we have made him welcome enough to feel able to visit us again.

    Today Adam came in asking for help.  His partner was just out of hospital with their new baby, but there was no food in the house. As he has been sanctioned for four weeks he has no money.  We have advised him where to go to get a voucher and we will be able to provide him with food this afternoon.

    We are seeing an increasing number of people who seem to be feeling they are not being dealt with very fairly with their benefits in their opinion. Whilst we don't get involved with the politics of this we are able to treat each person who comes to us for help fairly and with compassion

    Tom had split from his partner and had to leave their home very suddenly.  As he had no where else to go he lived in his car for several days.  He had friends who allowed him to cook food but were not able to help him further than that.  We have been able to provide him with food over the last week or so and he is in the process of getting the help he needs from other Agencies but of course this all takes time

    We don't know what caused Jack to be sent from his home town to Swindon, except that it was difficult circumstances that meant he had to go to a place where no one knew him.  He has no money, no friends or family in contact, no agency referral and therefore no support from council or job centre.  He has provisionally been put up in a hotel, but without money, food or cooking facilities he is destitute.  We have been able to provide him with a tin opener and food that he can eat cold from the can or packet!  We understand he has a key worker in his home town, but wonder if he has been overlooked because he is in another place.  This situation is not uncommon where people have been moved for their own security. It takes time for the local agencies to catch up, meanwhile they are left in limbo and where do they turn.

    Bob walked into the Distribution Centre wearing his biker jacket and covered in tatooes, giving the impression of a tough man, but he had recently been made redundant after 30 years with his company.  He had sold his bike and anything else he could, to provide for his wife and son rather than claim benefits, but now he is a broken man with nothing.  He has made his claim but of course the delay between claiming and receiving leaves him with nothing and no where else to turn.

    For each of these situations, Foodbank is able to provide food for them to eat, a listening ear, a caring heart and knowledge of the various support services that they can begin to tap into. We can only do this because of the generosity of yourselves and local Companies, Churches, Schools etc. and individuals who have caught the vision.

    Thank you so very much

  • Golden Time Toys support Foodbank

    Do you have children aged between 3 and 8 who like to draw and paint, then this is for you!

    Diane Etheridge of Golden Time Toys (In the Blooms of Bressingham centre, JCN 16) is holding an art competition for children aged 3-8 years to raise funds for Swindon Foodbank. Between now and 31st Dec you can donate £1 and get a chance to win toys from the shop to the value of £40! The winner will be announced in the Link Magazine in Jan 2014. So mum's and dad's get your little budding artists down to this great educational toy shop to have some fun and help feed those in Crisis over the Christmas period

  • No-one is safe from unexpected crisis

    It's easy to assume that those who need help from Swindon Foodbank are all from the same social situation. But the truth is a crisis can hit anyone at anytime. 

    Esther came to Swindon Foodbank after being made redundant from her middle management job. In her mid 40s her relationship then broke down and she found herself unemployed and left in a house that exceeded her house benefit. She had used all her capital and therefore couldn't downsize, and so stuck in a ‘vicious circle’.

    Because she was on benefits many landlords wouldn't consider taking her on. She came to Swindon Foodbank with a voucher and decided to return as a volunteer, giving her an opportunity for social interaction and some purpose in her day.

    However, her circumstances haven’t improved and she is likely to have to move back to live with her parents in a couple of month’s time.

  • Giving back

    Heather received help from Foodbank a couple of years ago and as a way of saying thank you she is organising a Christmas food collection at her work place.

    Tania was at Asda Wal-mart on Saturday but didn’t realise we were there until she had finished her shopping. She had been helped by Foodbank in the past and wanted to give some food when she was next shopping, so she came and asked us where she could take it.

    It is so special when someone who has been helped by Foodbank in the past comes to say thank you when they are in a better position and are able to give something back. This is real Community helping Community and demonstrates what Foodbank is about.

    Food can be donated at Swindon Restore St John’s Church Hall, Whitbourne Avenue, Swindon SN3 2LG Monday to Friday between 10 and 4

    Small amounts of food can be left at the Rainbow Bookshop in the town centre, particularly when Foodbank is there on Monday from 4.30 to 6pm or Thursday and Friday from 2.30 to 4.30pm

    If you have a quantity of food to donate and would like it collected please contact the office on 01793 978045 Monday to Friday between 10 & 4 (you can leave a message outside those hours and we can get back to you) or email office@swindonfoodbank.co.uk

  • Distribution is more than a bag of food

    One of the most important aspects of the work at distribution is the chance we get to spend time with people when they present a voucher. Recently one of our Thursday volunteers spent as long as it took to listen to a Client. The change in this person was nothing short of miraculous the following week when they came in again and the feedback they gave summed up the great work of the volunteers:

     “Thank you, you were the first person who actually listened to me in a long time “.

    Enough said.

    James 1:19

    Know this, my beloved: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

  • Carry one another's burdens

    The following comment was made by one of our clients attending the distribution centre. 

    “Thank you for your help. I now feel like I only have the weight on one shoulder instead of both”  

    What more can I say other than it sums up what we are able to achieve working together. It also reminds me of the following from Matthew 6:34

    “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."


  • Love in action

    A couple of weeks ago a gentleman in his early 50s attended the distribution centre. He had never been in the situation before where he could not feed his family. There were a number of issues that had delayed his new benefit claim, so we sat him down and over a cup of tea he was able to vent his frustration over his situation. The packers gradually brought carrier bags over, filled with food, and his eyes grew wider and wider as he saw what was included in his food parcel; as the final bag arrived tears of gratitude were welling up.

    We didn't see the man again until last week. Our hearts sank when he turned up at distribution, as we thought his benefits still hadn't been sorted out. But he hadn't come to claim a voucher but to return the unused items and a little bit more. All was now sorted with his claim.  He also handed a letter of thanks from his partner who, being housebound was unable to bring it herself. Having seen Jesus love demonstrated in action through Swindon Foodbank his partner has now expressed a wish to explore this further.  It just shows how one simple action of love to our fellow man can have an impact.

  • Swindon Restore creates purpose and opportunities

    Adam is a volunteer with Swindon Restore. He's a widower of about 18 months with three young children.  He has had a hard time learning to cope since the loss of his wife; since coming to Swindon Restore he has found some purpose in his days which enables him to avoid sitting at home drinking whilst the children are at school.  

    Swindon Restore has enabled Adam to train as an electrical PAT tester, and now he is helping to serve Clients who come to the Distribution Centre here at Swindon Restore on a Wednesday morning.  He is so pleased to help others because he knows what it is like to struggle with the things life throws at us and he can encourage others to push through and come out the other side.

  • Benefits advice welcomed

    Mary and her partner Reuben are living on low income, but were making ends meet. The Reuben's hours were cut at work, leaving him with only part time hours.  At the same time their rent went up and their housing benefit was cut. 

    Mary hasn't been drawing any benefits up till now; our workers at Swindon Foodbank have advised her where to go to see if she is eligible now.  Mary was desperately upset when she came in with a food voucher, but felt a little better after being welcomed with a listening ear and receiving some bags of food.

  • Self-employed builder is injured

    Luke is a self-employed builder, supporting his family of four teenage children and his partner, who works part-time. Recently Luke fell off his ladder while working, and his injury has prevented him from working. As he's self-employed Luke is not entitled to any benefits - he doesn't get sick leave. His partner's wage is not enough for the six of them to live off while Luke recovers. Swindon Foodbank has been able to stand in the gap and help feed the family until Luke can return to work. 

    Luke does lots of voluntary work, and it's great to be able to support someone who so generously gives of himself to others. 

  • Foodbank and Restore working hand in hand

    Esther is a young mum of teenage children, who suffers from Aspergers. Though she receives support through term time, during the holidays she is left to fend for herself, without structure or guidance. She believes that one of her sons may also have Aspergers, but his intense shyness has so far prevented him from getting diagnosis or help. 

    Esther's money had just been changed from weekly to fortnightly and she was totally unable to adapt to this on her own.  Swindon Foodbank were able to help her with food support, and we were also able to offer her some volunteer time at Swindon Restore.  

    When we suggested the workshop at Restore her face lit up - she loves working with wood.  She will be able to come in on a regular basis and restore some furniture, giving her structure in her time, regular activity, connections with people to support her and food to eat.  It is a lovely picture of how the two projects are going to work hand in hand.

  • Generosity leaves a young mum without food

    Ruth is a teenage mum with a one year old child.  Although she has family locally they are also on benefits and therefore feel unable to help her very much.  Ruth has a friend who needed some help and so she unwisely lent them some money which was not returned quick enough to prevent her from running out of money herself.  Her health visitor is working with her to get back on her feet but in the meantime a Swindon Foodbank voucher ensured she would have food for her and her child to eat.

  • Bipolar mum needs support

    A couple suffering ill health have been struggling to get income to provide for themselves and their two children. Pollyann, who has been out of work since 2010, suffers from bipolar disorder, while her partner currently has problems with his knees which is keeping him from working in his construction job. 

    At the moment their benefits are being reviewed, but in the meantime they have gotten into debt and had the bailiffs round. The situation is causing much stress for Pollyann.

    When Pollyann came into the Distribution Centre this week, as well as providing her with food for the family which immediately lifts some of the weight from her shoulders, we were able to spend time with her just listening to her story and ensuring she was getting the help she needed to come through this difficult time. 

  • Feeding a family of seven is no simple feat

    Katy came into Swindon Foodbank last week. A mother of 5 children (late teens downwards), she has been searching for work for some time, but has not managed to find any yet. Her partner, a self employed tradesman in the building trade, is also out of work at present. Being self employed he is limited in what help he can get through the Job Centre; the children are all in full time education and not of an age to be able to help bring in income. So the responsibility and pressure to provide falls to Katy to claim what she can.

    The family are finding it vey difficult to manage on what benefits they do receive. When she came to the Distribution Centre she was quite tearful, feeling that she just didn’t know how to manage any more, and not knowing where to turn for more help. 

    We were able to feed the whole family, relieving some of the pressure which Katy has been living under for a time. 

  • Benefits a double edged sword

    Many people on a limited income are able to cope thanks to the benefits they receive. However, this is often a double edged sword, as benefits can be stopped by the Government or by administration for all sorts of reasons, frequently leaving recipients with a sudden drop in their income. The following two stories demonstrate how differing circumstances can have similar effects. 

    Anna is a single mother, and was just about managing to provide for herself and her 5 year old son with the help of child benefit and child tax credits.  Wanting to improve her circumstances Anna began to attend college, and was able to receive the ESA (Education Support Allowance), which made life a bit easier.  Unfortunately personal circumstances prevented her from attending college for a short period, and consequently her ESA was withdrawn.  Now months later she is still trying to sort it out and has asked the CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) to help her with this.  In the meantime she is struggling to make her money work  and Foodbank is able to stand with her to provide some food during this difficult time.

    Duncan was admitted to hospital due to manic depression, but whilst in their care other issues were discovered, and he ended up staying for several weeks.  This caused his benefits to be temporarily stopped, however when he was sent home it was clear that it would take a few weeks before the benefits were reinstated and he began receiving the money again. Avon & Wiltshire Partnership were able to give him a Foodbank voucher to ensure he still had food in the period whilst waiting for this benefits, and were also able to get a crisis loan for him to help with his bills. 

  • A teenager's only support

    Katie is a seventeen year old girl, who came into the Distribution Centre with her younger sister Ellie and a friend. Katie and Ellie live at home with their mother, who is a drug addict. Although trying to make life at home work, Katie had just found things so desperate that, just ten days short of her 18th birthday, she had decided to leave. However, she was still greatly worried about leaving her sister behind.

    Katie and her sister had spent the day trying to arrange somewhere for her to stay, for money, and also for help for Ellie. However because she was still under 18 she was told there was no help available to her for accommodation or financial help; and Social Services were unable to help regarding Ellie, only able to suggest that they should inform the police about what was happening at home.

    Thankfully Connexions had been able to give the girls a Foodbank voucher and send them to us. When they arrived they were naturally very distraught. While putting together their foodbox we were able to talk with the girls at length. As they were listened to and they realised that there were people who genuinely cared about what they were going through they gradually became calm. We may not have been able to solve all their problems, but while with us they regained a sense of hope that help would be available to them somewhere.

  • Penalised for job hunting

    Grace is five months pregnant. Two months ago she was made redundant. She signed on a the job centre and began receiving her benefits, while she searched for a new job. Last week she was put forward for an interview, which she was eager to go for. However, it wasn't until the interview itself that we discovered it was a six month contract - which would be no good for her as she would soon be unable to work once the baby arrived. Even so they offered her the job, which she had to turn down. 

    Turning down a job offer meant that her benefits were instantly frozen, leaving her with no income. Grace has no family locally, and very little support. She was able to see the Job Centre manager who could understand the situation she was in, but was powerless to effect the month freeze on her benefits. Thankfully he was able to give her a Foodbank voucher. 

    Grace was understandably in distress when she came to Swindon Foodbank, but was much relieved when she was how much food she would receive. Having some practical support in this way helped her to keep on fighting - she now going to go to Wiltshire Law Centre to seek help in having her benefits freeze lifted. 

  • Christmas confusion

    Single mum of four Simone was left in confusion about her finances over Christmas when the seasonal busy-ness meant her child tax credits and benefits were paid in at different dates to normal. By Christmas Eve she was not certain what money she had received and what was yet to be paid. 

    Knowing she needed some help she tried to get advice during the week between Christmas and New Year, but everywhere was closed. She didn't even have enough money to put credit on her phone, so in desperation she sent an email to Foodbank; on January 2nd we were able to respond to her email - but in the intervening delay Simone had already borrowed money to get her through the week. This loan had to be repaid when she received her next payment - leaving her with nothing once again. 

    Simone tried to get a Foodbank voucher through Sure Start, but they were closed for Christmas, as was North Swindon Family Centre. Finally she managed to call us in the evening on January 4th and we were able to provide her with food the following morning. 

  • Missed appointment leads to 10 months' benefit delay

    Ella has been receiving disability allowance for several years due to ill health, including epilepsy, which was thought to be under control. When changes in the Benefits system were recently introduced, the Benefits Office booked a medical check on Ella to reassess her current disability. 

    Meanwhile pressure at home, including her partner being out of work, lead to Ella's home life becoming stressful, eventually leading to what appears to have been a relapse in her epilepsy. On the day of the Benefits health check Ella was actually at the hospital, having what was initially thought to be a seizure, which meant she missed the appointment. 

    Despite supplying proof of the circumstances the Benefits Office stopped all but the very basic benefits because of the missed appointment. Ella and her partner were left really struggling financially to provide for themselves and their three children. 

    Ella received professional advice, and the case was taken to court. When the case was finally brought before a judge - after nine months - the judge was outraged that the family had been left in such circumstances when it was clear there was a genuine reason for Ella not making the medical appointment. All benefits were reinstated - but this will take a further four weeks to be put in place. 

    Swindon Foodbank has  been able to provide regular foodboxes to the family throughout this time. 

  • No notice, no pay

    Nineteen year old Jack is a bright and independent young man, working for a self-employed painter and decorator. However, no-one advised him he needed a contract of employment. When his employer lost his contract with a housing association he terminated Jack's employment immediately, with no notice and no pay - in fact, he still owed him two months salary. 

    Jack tried to deal with his new situation as best he could. He went to see Swindon Borough Council about his council rent, and to the Job Centre to sign on. However, he was told it would be three weeks before he would receive any money. Suddenly Jack had no money and no way to feed himself with no prospect of that changing for weeks. 

    He found his way to Swindon Foodbank, who were able to contact SBC Housing who carry our food vouchers, and get them to issue Jack with vouchers until his money comes through. Jack is now able to continue dealing with this abrupt change in his circumstances with dignity and maintaining his independence, without the stress and fear of going without food. 

  • Left with nothing, but Foodbank steps in

    Gill's life recently fell apart when her partner left her. But it wasn't just the emotional trauma. When he left he took everything with him - the cooker, fridge, their furniture and bedding - leaving her with nothing.  Gill was devastated and extremely sad.  At Swindon Foodbank we were able to help her with some food and a few hygiene products, and also put her in touch with the Gateway Furniture Project who may be able to help with basic furniture needs.

    Sandy's partner Glynn also walked out on her, leaving her with their two children aged 4 and 1. On going to buy food she realised that he'd also cleared out their joint bank account, leaving her with no money with which to provide for herself and the children, or meet any of the household bills. 

    Sandy went for several days without food as she used all her limited resources to feed her children. Eventually she approached the WSCC for help. But unfortunately all she met was roadblocks. The Wiltshire social services out worker was unable to offer any help. She could apply for a crisis loan, but that wouldn't be available for at least a week. The benefits system was closed to her, due to her situation needing to be investigated and reassessed following her partner's leaving. 

    The WSCC staff took a collection and brought her some food basics such as bread and milk, and a £10 electricity card. But even this wouldn't last long. 

    Thankfully the WSCC were also able to give Sandy a Foodbank voucher. When she came to the Distribution Centre we were able to give her food for her and her children that same day, and ensure this struggling family were able to eat every day until her benefits and crisis loan were available to her again. 

  • More than food

    Sally came to Swindon Foodbank in need of food - but also support and a listening ear. 

    Sally suffers from Asperges Syndrome. Going to college gives her a daily routine which helps her to cope with her illness. However, the summer holidays takes this routine away - suddenly daily living, paying the bills and staying on top of things becomes that much harder for her. 

    This year things got worse due to the Government's tightening of Disability Allowances. Sally has been deemed 'fit to cope'; this has resulted in her losing some of her income on which she depends to provide for her and her teenage son. In order to dispute the finding Sally needs to complete forms to request a reassessment. It has all become too much for her, and the summer has been a struggle for her to cope without the usual support she depends on to work these things through. 

    A Foodbank voucher has helped her obtain some food - but more valuable has been the sympathetic support, someone to listen to her story, opportunity for her to offload her stress and frustration, as well as advice on how to go forward. 

  • Babies need feeding too

    Sometimes we are given some baby food which we can distribute when the need arises.  Last Thursday we had two such occasions.

    Jane's partner moved out when he found out she was pregnant, so in order to support Jane with the baby her mother moved in.  These changes caused the Benefits Office to close their case on the computer in order to reassess Jane's situation.  While she waited for her benefits to be reinstated Jane was in need of help with food to bridge the gap -and thanks to the baby food we had in our stores we were also able to provide some food for the baby.

    Abi and Jake are young parents who were living in a hostel until their baby was born.  With their new arrival the council found them a flat but it was a private let and therefore the landlord required the first month's rent in advance. Their housing Benefit was still being processed, and so they were forced to borrow the money for the rent. They were left with nothing to buy their food, or their baby's,  so their Health Visitor helped them with a food voucher. We were so happy to be able to provide food not just for Abi and Jake but for their baby too. 

  • An extra mouth to feed with no extra money

    Esther is a single mum with two young children. One of her children has behavioural problems, which means she can't work fulltime, which in turn keeps her income low. 

    Then Esther's sister died, leaving a young son without a home. Esther took her nephew in to live with them, and is now applying to foster him, a lengthy administrative process. In the meantime Esther, already struggling on a low income, has an extra mouth to feed with no extra help from benefits until the relevant paperwork has been put in place. The professionals working with Esther have been able to provide her with Foodbank vouchers to help her through this difficult time of re-adjustment. 

  • Crisis Averted After Crisis Loan Refused

    Paul, a young man in his 20s, has been unemployed for the past 6 months. While actively seeking for work, his benefits were delayed, leaving him without an income. When his application for a crisis loan was refused it looked like he had nowhere else to turn. But instead of facing crisis, Paul was directed to Foodbank where he twice received foodboxes, keeping him from going without. In addition, contact with Swindon Foodbank has also lead to him being in touch with another organisation who are helping to furnish his flat.

  • Benefits Mix-up Leaves Mum in Distress

    Sally and John live in Swindon and have six children. But recently the family suffered the trauma of Sally's eldest son, also called John, losing his battle with cancer. As if this difficult time wasn't enough, there followed a mix up over their benefits. Due to Sally's partner and son both having the same name, the Benefits Office incorrectly recorded the death of the wrong John. Suddenly Sally and her partner, still reeling from their son's death and concentrating on comforting their remaining five children, were faced with trying to support the family with no money coming in.

    Sally and John received support from professionals in Swindon, who referred them to Swindon Foodbank. We have been privileged to be part of the team supporting this family through a distressing time, providing food for the whole family while the benefits mess is cleared up. Contact with the family has allowed us also to give emotional support It is a great example of how the network of support agencies in Swindon work together to provide help for those in crisis.

  • Giving care to those in need

    Derek was recently referred to Swindon Foodbank by Prospect Hospice. Previously living on the streets Derek, now in accommodation, was living on the edge of poverty, with no family to help. Then late last year he was diagnosed with cancer, and began undergoing treatment. Prospect Hospice are caring for him, while Foodbank is making sure he is well fed. But the greatest blessing is not so much the food, but the knowledge that he is not alone - there are people who will care for him for as long as it takes.

  • Foodbank steps in for Woolworths employees

    Susan and her partner both worked for Woolworths, bringing in £30,000 between them each month. With the store's closure in 2009 they were faced with a drastically reduced income. Despite working hard to adjust to their new income, and continually searching for new employment, by Christmas they were struggling. Their circumstances had changed meaning that their benefits were not regular, and neither had managed to find regular work. Swindon Foodbank was able to help bridge the gap till their benefits were stabilised. 

  • Craig's testimony

    My foodbank story all started at the beginning of this year. I met Kellie in January and we soon got together in February, I was homeless whereas Kellie was in emergency accommodation. Our benefits were getting delayed and we were struggling to feed ourselves. A friend mentioned to us that there was a company called the foodbank that could help us out, at first it seemed to be too good to be true. We went to the law centre in town and received a voucher entitling us to 3-5 days worth of food that we couldn’t afford to pay for ourselves.

    So off we went to the foodbank one day and were given around six bags of food and met some wonderful people in the process. Over the coming months we visited a few more times, during this time the council finally found me a flat, as I was homeless however I had no furniture and hardly any belongings to move in with. Richard and his wife Sandra pointed me to the furniture project that was run by a member of their church and within a few months I had everything in place that i needed.

    However during this time I had to make regular visits to the foodbank to just be able to feed myself and Kellie. Whilst we were choosing the furniture we were so touched by the generosity of the people helping that we decided to attend their church as a mark of thanks and respect.

    The Sunday morning we attended something struck deep within us, seeing all the people there so friendly and passionate in what they believed in. It left a lasting impression on us and we started attending more and more often, soon after we were invited to join a small group from the church to learn and gain a wider understanding of God.

    On 22nd November 09 Kellie and I were baptised and in a way our story all started with a visit to the foodbank to receive help that we wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else. In the long run we both know it was God’s plan for the both of us and we're planning our wedding at the church early in 2010.

    This is our story, I hope you enjoy it at much as we are!

  • My wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer - Where do I go for help?

    UpsetSwindon Foodbank has many stories of being able to help people in crisis. People like Brian:  “My wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve had to give up work in order to take care of her and our twin sons who are just 18 months old - but I won’t get benefits for 12 weeks. How on earth am I going to provide for my family and take care of them during this time?”

    Foodbank was able to help Brian by giving him food to feed his family until his benefits started.

    Brian’s story is just one example of the many varying situations in which we offer support.

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