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Peterborough church Food Hub provides vital support

A Food Hub at St Luke’s church in Orton Malborne, Peterborough has been giving food and much-needed support to those in food need in the local community. Organiser Joan Wayland reports.

Back in June last year, Fr Jeffrey at St Luke’s in Orton Malborne, Peterborough, asked parishioners if they would be able to support a “Food Hub” in the Parish.  There were already a team of volunteers who had, before Covid restrictions, supported the Winter Night Shelter and they were contacted to see if they could support this new project.

Several people responded, some parishioners and some who do not go to church at all.

An inaugural meeting was arranged to form a working party and David Livesey from Caritas shared his invaluable experience with all who attended.

There was a steep learning curve and it was beneficial to have contact with other more experienced organisations both locally and in London, who were generous with their time and support.  As word of the Food Hub spread, donations of food came in from Joe Rodriguez of St Joseph’s Family Society, Unison and parishioners.

The kindness and generosity of all who contributed meant that the small meeting room at St Luke’s really did become a Food Hub.  Local doctors, schools, the council and other organisations were alerted to the new venture and soon began to send those they felt were in need, though numbers were initially small, they are growing week-on-week.  The Food

Hub began just before Christmas and has steadily grown ever since.

Local city councillors have visited the Food Hub and will promote it appropriately and volunteers have had the opportunity to speak to a meeting of Churches in the Ortons.

The volunteers attend on a fortnightly rota and it is not only food and other provisions that are shared.  Tea, coffee and biscuits are always on offer and our visitors can stay to chat, warm up on a cold day as well as collect appropriate provisions.  Some of our visitors have continued to attend and become volunteers themselves.

Much has been learned: If visitors are loaded up with too many bags, though this may seem generous, they can’t always carry that amount; holding stock for too long can mean it goes out of date; space is of the essence and is soon filled; can people heat food at home or even open tins without ring pulls?

The benefits of having a Food Hub have been immense.  Local people in need can come and get provisions but volunteers have been given the opportunity to learn from all who attend about gratitude.  Resources have been shared  and someone with IT skills has set up a spreadsheet, co-ordinators take responsibility for contacting volunteers to remind them about their “shift”.  All in all, this has been a great project for furthering parish cohesion and reaching out to others some of whom do not attend church.

In future, we hope to have more space and offer more services, over more days of the week to those in need.

Pictured above are some of the Food Hub volunteers, from the left, Fedra Diogo, Margaret Snowden, Carol Brooks, Joan Wayland, Richard Rahim and Tony O’Driscoll.