Pre-Covid, Pontesbury didn’t have a food bank or community food project, but it had a strong community and once lockdown began, concerned community members came together to create the Pontesbury Food Hub.
Initially, the group was similar to a lot of other mutual aid groups set up in the wake of Covid. They picked up prescriptions and shopping for people shielding. But they also collected surplus food and donations to put together food boxes for families and individuals were struggling financially or vulnerable and isolating. Many volunteers came forward to help, with 60 people willing to help out in their community.
The Food Hub worked closely with the Parish Clerk, GP surgery and Housing association to ensure that everyone locally was aware of the help available. Local knowledge helped to identify families who were struggling financially. During lockdown they were delivering 25 parcels a week, and supported families with food, sanitary products and nappies and some treats along the way. Alongside this, they signposted people to relevant organisations in Shrewsbury and Shropshire – such as Citizens Advice, Shropshire Council - to ensure they had specialised long term support.
Initially the group planned to operate until the end of lockdown, but as time has gone on they have found that there are an increasing number of families who have been affected by redundancies or reduced incomes who are struggling to afford the basics. They have also found that since the end of shielding, vulnerable older people are also coming forward for support.
They are currently supporting about 5 families and individuals each week for a period of 4 weeks – but they’re finding that as one family moves on they are very quickly replaced.
Pontesbury is a great example of what can be achieved in a short amount of time when a community comes together. Volunteers dropping off the food boxes are often an important form of contact for people who may not have local family members or who aren’t visiting in case of infection and many recipients say the visits have been essential for their mental and emotional health. “A food box is not just welcome financially but also conveys a sense of being thought of and supported by their community”.
They are reliant on donations from the local community to keep going. If you would like to donate food you can do so via the Drop box by the door at Pontesbury Coop.
Collection boxes will be back in both Pontesbury & Minsterley Co-op’s in September.
If you need a foodbox, you can message or ring one of these numbers and arrange a suitable time. Tel: 07940988951/07906359167. Someone will meet you there – all in confidence.