The North Guildford Food Bank

September 11, 2023| News + Events, Past Issues

Who do we serve and where is the Food Bank?

If you shop at Sainsbury’s in Burpham you may have noticed the collection point for The North Guildford Food Bank inside the store. Although we are based at St Clare’s Church in Park Barn, the Food Bank’s clients come from all over the Guildford area including Burpham and Merrow. We cannot provide this service without your generosity; whether that is a donation of a tin of soup, some cereal, nappies or indeed a financial donation through our web-site:

Clients are referred to the Food Bank from many sources including GPs, Guildford Borough Council, Home School Link Workers, Citizens Advice Bureau and Guildford Action. Unemployment is the biggest reason for a referral followed by debt, benefit delay, sickness, cost of living and low income. Clients come to us to receive a generous package tailored to their household that includes food, toiletries, household cleaning products, dog and cat food (if needed) and sanitary items. We also keep additional foodstuffs for clients with specific dietary needs.

Audrey Howells, Val Morecom, Karin Hirschcom, Chris Lee (in the cafe with packed parcels ready for clients).

Where do our supplies come from?

Help comes from far and wide thankfully. Individuals donate food. Streets come together to raise funds or drop off bags of groceries. Businesses (including Waitrose and Pets at Home where donations can also be made), schools and local clubs also help. Regular donations from Guildford Lions enable us to provide fresh fruit and vegetables. Cash donations mean we can buy and give out milk, cheese, butter and bread as well as fuel vouchers for clients with pre-payment gas or electricity meters. Guildford Borough Council delivers to housebound clients.

Burpham (and Guildford) is blessed with wonderful friends, clubs, churches, schools, businesses and neighbours who all look out for those who find themselves in need. And then we have around 90 incredible volunteers.

Lorraine Price (Team Leader at Wednesday’s session outside St Clare’s).

What happens to items you leave in the Food Bank donation point in Sainsbury’s?

Each Monday our volunteers pick up the donations, taking the stock to St. Clare’s Church. The new stock is then dated, sorted and put away in our storeroom ready for our volunteer packers.

In preparation for the sessions, our volunteers pack parcels tailoring each to the client’s specific needs and preferences (for example vegetarian, low-sugar, gluten-free and so on) that are forwarded to us by the client’s referrer.

The Food Bank is open each week on Tues (1pm-2pm), Wed (9.30am-10.30am) and Fri (5.30pm-6.30pm). At these times clients collect their parcels and can also spend time in our free café chatting to volunteers. Many clients find themselves isolated and this friendship and support can be just as valuable as the food. It is also an opportunity to tell the clients about other services and help that is available to them from so many different groups in Guildford.

We are sometimes asked about clients’ reactions when they receive their packages. Clients are immensely grateful to our volunteers and of the compassion and generosity of those who have made donations. It is not uncommon for clients to become emotional when they receive their parcels. Some who have benefited from the food bank subsequently find themselves in better circumstances and go on to donate items themselves. It can be difficult to visualise the impact you are having on peoples’ lives when you place your donated items in the collection boxes. Please take it from us that you are doing something very special indeed.

Thank you, Burpham!