Avonmouth church community expands its emergency food parcel service and outreach work


First published on: 18th June 2020

In Avonmouth, a local church group has been awarded £125,000 in community grants for an aspirational woodworking workshop “Space4Makers” and a store room to expand its Foodbank and HomeBank service.

St Andrew’s Church, through its Bristol North West Foodbank, has helped over 35,000 people in crisis with the provision of emergency food parcels. The group also has a service called HomeBank, which provides household goods for those in need. They receive referrals from 290 local care agencies that identify individuals and families in crisis.

Rev Dr Andy Murray, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Bristol North West Foodbank and Vicar at St Andrew’s Church Avonmouth and at St Peter’s Church Lawrence Weston, said “We’re delighted to be partnering with Bristol City Council, community members and local churches to launch the Space4Makers Workshop.  Each week at the Social Justice hub and our local foodbank outlets we meet local people who have found themselves out of work, struggling with life issues and often not able to see a way forward.  The woodworking workshop will be a place to make friends, build confidence and skills for life and work, a place to rediscover hope and grow aspirations for the future."

The next steps are to create and fund a woodworking workshop, starting small and building different programmes to suit different participants. They are also looking to expand the capacity of the Foodbank and HomeBank service, as they prepare for an expected increase of need due to greater economic difficulties and isolation many in their community are facing because of the coronavirus.

Workshop projects have a proven track record in developing skills, improving mental health and reducing isolation. The group are looking to connect with young adults leaving school with limited qualifications, isolated groups such as refugees, asylum seekers, elderly persons and single people as well as the long term unemployed.

Julie Morgan, a local resident and Bristol North West Foodbank volunteer, said "I think that the project could have a profound effect on the way people feel about themselves and what they are capable of.  It could create more self respect in the community and lead to people taking more pride in their environment. I particularly worry about the young men who live here.  Many of them are housed in HMO's (houses of multiple occupation) with not much chance of being able to improve their surroundings.  We often get young men at the foodbank who are out of work, they have no families so get little benefits, they seem to have no hope and many of them have little education and little chance of getting well paid jobs.  There would be a good chance that if we could get some of these young men to participate in the workshop it would give them some self esteem and some hope for the future." 

Bristol City Council (BCC) Enterprise and BCC Port Community Resilience Fund grant funds of £125,000 are enabling the building works, technical assistance and the purchase of woodworking equipment and a laser cutting system.   The balance of the capital project is being met by Bristol North West Foodbank and other grant funders.

Building works have an anticipated start of early June 2020. Some building renovations have already begun to include a new toilet and shower facilities, a new kitchen for cookery and budgeting courses, and a consultation room which in time is hoped to be used for counselling and free legal advice. 

Further information please visit https://www.bristolnorthwestfoodbank.org.uk   

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The Avonside Mission Area is a covenanted mission partnership between five Anglican churches in North West Bristol. Together they are pursuing Christ’s transformation of their communities; socially, culturally and spiritually, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mission Areas are a strategic initiative of the Diocese of Bristol bringing parishes together to serve alongside one another with a coordinated approach to mission, sharing resources and ideas. Learning from the Mission Areas is collected and shared to inspire and resource mission activity across the Diocese.