South Bristol church offers support to local food bank

First published 24th September 2020

St Martin’s Church, Knowle is now running the food bank set up by Knowle Park Primary school at the start of lockdown.

The food bank was established in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was run by teacher and parent volunteers to support local families who were struggling to provide basic food provisions due to changing working conditions, the impact of the furlough scheme and redundancies.

St Martin’s Church offered to take it over and run it once the school shut for the summer holidays and will now run it for as long as it is needed. The food bank has been operating every Tuesday in St Martin’s Church and now supports local residents and members of the church family, along with families from Knowle Park Primary School.

Food is donated by members of the St Martin’s congregation, local neighbours and local supermarkets.

The Rev. Laura Verrall-Kelly, curate at St Martin’s Knowle, said,

“Ensuring dignity for people using the food bank is a priority. We are operating similarly to a supermarket in layout, so people can choose what they want. We also do some deliveries, with food packages being prayerfully and thoughtfully assembled, considering the needs, size and wants of the family.

“It has been a steep learning curve - gathering volunteers, arranging donations and running a food bank in a way that isn't patronising or tokenistic but genuine and family orientated.

“We do this in our church as we believe it’s a core part of our worship to come alongside our brothers and sisters in our parish.”

The Ven Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol, said,

“Food bank stories are always difficult – the simple fact that they are needed at all is one of sadness and pain and points to some deep-rooted issues in our society. However, this is another brilliant example of a local church stepping up to love and care for its community during Covid-19.

“It’s so important to do those practical, helpful things that can make a difference to a person or a family. God tells us to love our neighbour and St Martin’s are doing just that.”

The food bank relies on a team of volunteers from the St Martin’s community, who are learning new ways of working each week and responding to feedback from users to find ways to improve.

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