Back to Blog
During these unprecedented times, the charity behind Southport Foodbank has been aiming to reach families who have traditionally felt a sense of reluctance to rely on food projects.
An example is that a sample bag has been sent to around 100 families via primary schools locally- those mainly who have recently joined the free school meals system and are naturally unfamiliar with entitlements and options for advice. – including the non-judgmental in-house debt and benefits advice offered by Compassion Acts.
Another example is the emergence of good working partnership working Meols Cop High School on Norwood Road which has been forged over the last 12 months – especially Compassion Acts was able to support Meols Cop’s community food drive in summer 2020 with surplus food stock. A whole pallet of food items from a national wholesaler has been ordered by Compassion Acts for the school to distribute in February 2021 half term.
“We are aware that the need is growing among families” says Richard Owens, CEO of Compassion Acts “this was illustrated by the massive increase in the number of families accessing our services. So we wanted to move resources to the point where its easiest for people, and given the travel restrictions of lockdown, that will be their local school”
This term, after feedback from the school’s pastoral team about the difficulties faced by families in High Park getting to Foodbank sessions, the charity has shortened the process for Foodbank referrals so that the school is empowered to refer and distribute its own on-site Foodbank. The Youth & Community Centre which sits on the school’s grounds have been very supportive also supporting delivering the food to families who most need it.
Mr Parry, Headteacher of Meols Cop said “This pandemic has put the spotlight on so many challenges that our families are facing. It has been valuable to develop working relationships with partners who understand these challenges better than anyone. Through working with Compassion Acts and the team from the Youth Community Partnership we have now not only been able to support in the short term but also explore more long term sustainable support”
As has been widely publicised nationally with campaigns by footballer Marcus Rashford and others, it is school holidays which are particularly challenging for parents. Therefore, Compassion Acts and headteachers of local schools, including Mr Parry are pursuing every avenue of cooperation with Sefton Council and others to see what could happen in the long summer holidays.
• The charity also runs a Food Pantry, which is a club where people pay a contribution to access a choice of food, at nearby Bishop David Shepard Primary School
Back to Blog
We've been so busy getting on with our projects that we haven't had chance to thank our wonderful donors. Well its long overdue and this Valentine's weekend we wanted to share the LOVE!
Without you our wonderful donors, we simply could not do what we do. It is sad that we need to have a Foodbank at all- and in an ideal world there be the need. However we are working hard to also look at the issues which bring people to food crisis in the first place.
During the month of December we received over 13 tonnes of food donations. This is truly staggering and totally unprecedented. This included schools and businesses. Also the community champions who collect in local areas. Thank you
This enabled us to pack, decorate and fill 170 Christmas hampers of additional luxury items for our Foodbank and Food Pantry clients and deliver them in time for Christmas.
We were also blown away by the generosity of people and groups, who opted to make financial donations over the festive period rather than give us food. This is a most effective way to give because it allows us to investing our advice & support team. These are the professionally trained advisers who are present at Foodbank and Food Pantry sessions to help clients with any worries about debt or to benefits.
Just some of the wonderful groups who supported us at Christmas:
St James' Birkdale
Southport Cycling Club
Anonymous individuals : donating between £100 and £1000 . Truly astonishing and very humbling.
ASDA Southport (the ASDA Foundation)
Southport Cycling Club
Running Clubs and many more!!!
Back to Blog
Helping families who need support – that’s what Food Pantry is doing at Bishop David Sheppard CE school, thanks to head teacher Siobhan Bayliff and her staff.
With over 200 pupils, and recognising the needs of the local community, Siobhan decided to repurpose some spare space and help local families just over a year ago. She got in touch with Compassion Acts and a Food Pantry was set up. Since then there’s been a pandemic, so the Pantry, and the school, have had to adapt.
Siobhan said, “Through the pandemic the Pantry has provided food packages, which staff have delivered. Families really appreciated it. A lot of parents have said about Food Pantry, ‘I didn’t realise it was for me!’”
There are now around eight families a week using the Pantry. One family has six children, with four still at home. The mother had been furloughed from the leisure industry but her money hasn’t come through yet. She said, “This is helping a lot, without it we’d be struggling.”
The Food Pantry at BDS School is a partnership between the local church of St Simon & St Jude, the Bishop David Shepperd CofE School and Compassion Acts.
I don’t know what I would have done
Volunteer Hilary Sixsmith said, “I was approached by Andy Liggins, now Vicar at St. Simon and St Jude with All Souls church. We are seeking to serve our local community in a practical way, which the Food Pantry of course does. Jenny and I spent a lot of time setting it up and have now been joined by Keith Knapton and Mo Burnley, forming a viable team of volunteers to keep it going.
“We’ve had people come in who are running out of money and it’s wonderful how much they can get. It’s a practical way of serving our community. There’s such satisfaction in ensuring people have food on the table and are not worrying.”
Volunteer Jenny Pye explained, “It’s really nice to be able to help people in need and offer them something they’re not able to get elsewhere. People have said, ‘I don’t know what I would have done without it.’ We donate our time to this as it’s serving our own community.”
Foodbank is for people in crisis and is limited, but once the crisis passes there is still a need. So at this Food Pantry, members pay £5 a week to access shopping to the value of around £20, which they can (usually) choose themselves.
Back to Blog
Autumn 2020 : Together we can help everyone through this tough time.
From week commencing 5th October 2020 a new timetable across all parts of our town.
Tuesdays 12-2 St Simon’s, High Park. PR9 7BQ
Tuesdays 1-3 St Peter’s, Birkdale. PR8 4BY
Wednesdays 1-3 SNR Baptist Church, Town Centre, PR8 6PU
Thursdays 1-3 Ainsdale Methodist Church, PR8 3NQ
Thursdays 3.30-5.30 Salvation Army, Shakespeare Street, PR8 5AJ
Fridays, 1-3 Lakeside Church, PR9 0LA
Saturdays, 10-11.30, Family Life Centre, Ash Street, PR8 6JH
• For people in emergency food crisis. Before you come along get an e-voucher from an agency such as: Sefton Council, Job Centre, School or health visitors or if you cannot reach an agency, text 07526 897284 and we’ll arrange a personal telephone assessment.
• Our email for enquiries is firstname.lastname@example.org
Southport Food Pantry
Tuesdays, Grace Centre, Princes Street, PR8 1HU
Thursdays, Bishop David Shepard School, PR9 7BZ
• A weekly food club for the ‘just about managing’ costs £5 per week. By referral only. Want to refer someone? Contact our Adviser team email@example.com
Advice & Support
Struggling with Debt? Need help to navigate the Benefit System? Need to chat and receive reassurance?
Text: 07526 897284
You do not need to be a current Foodbank or Food Pantry client to use this service. It is open to anyone.
CAP Debt Centre is also available for people wishing to self refer. Here
Back to Blog
Our meeting was held on Zoom on 4th September 2020. Read our report on the PDF below.
Thanks Sharon. We were here for you and will be for others. We like this uplifting song.
Back to Blog
Southport single mum-of-two Helen was struggling. Her adult son suffers with anxiety and lost his job, so Helen had to cover his living expenses, as well as her own and her nine year old daughter’s.
“I have only my money to feed us and pay bills and everything and it is such a struggle every week,” she explained. The Salvation Army referred her to Food Pantry, run by Compassion Acts and part of the Southport Foodbank family. At the Pantry, members pay £5 per week to access shopping to the value of around £20, which they choose themselves and helps build self esteem.
Helen said, “After paying bills I didn’t have much money left for food shopping so the Pantry has helped me so much with a top up shop. On the first day, the help was amazing. They were all so friendly and showed me the ropes and I got free drink and a biscuit.
“I don’t get any support from anyone so the Pantry has been a lifeline to us all. We get some essentials and treats, milk, bread, fruit and veg, which I would not be able to afford every week on top of my bills. The kids are excited when I return home from the Pantry to see what bits I have got.
“Without the Pantry we would have less essentials, which would be really hard and a struggle. It is an amazing place.”
Helen advises others who are struggling, “There is help out there, the people are so nice and would help you. They also have money people to talk to if you ever need help.”
Back to Blog
Local grassroots charity “Compassion Acts” which is best known for running the town’s Foodbank, has been supporting a local family over the last 12 months with a legal challenge against the DWP.
Following a relationship breakdown, Sharon, a working Mum of 3 children was required to apply for Universal Credit. She worked 16 hours a week at National Living Wage and was paid every 4 weeks. As the Universal Credit system is designed to assess earnings across a calendar month, the DWP were underestimating her actual income each month. This resulted in her falling short of the income threshold to avoid the Benefit Cap and she instantly saw her monthly Universal Credit payment reduced by £463 per month. Had she been paid monthly, this reduction would not have been applied.
The Southport working Mum cared for her Gran who suffers with Dementia, did initially approach her Employer to request her income be changed to monthly but due to their payroll system, they were unable to accommodate this request.
As Universal Credit had severely reduced her income, Sharon was forced to use the Foodbank to feed herself and her family.
Our team were on hand to support her and immediately raised this as an issue and challenged the DWP directly. The team also contacted ‘Child Poverty Action Group’ (CPAG) for support and CPAG agreed with our Welfare Team that Sharon was being discriminated against and sought a Judicial Review through the High Court.
Sharon said “Given that I am working exactly the same number of hours and earning the same amount as somebody working 16 hours at national minimum wage who happens to be paid monthly I do not understand why my family's budget should be subject to the cap. It is difficult to explain to somebody not in my situation just how devastating an impact it has had and continues to have.”
The Judicial Review took place on the 13 May 2020. The Judge, Mr Justice Garnham said “It would not be inconsistent with the overall UC scheme to devise an exception to resolve the problem.”
“It is a matter of basic fairness and justice. Sharon was doing the right thing, working part time to support her family” says Chair of the Trustees of Compassion Acts charity, Allan Salisbury “However she was unfairly treated simply because she was paid four-weekly. I’m sure this wasn’t how the policy was intended but its how its been applied.
“It’s a sad reflection on the system that there is a need for Foodbanks and the benefit systems are not sufficiently flexible to meet people’s basic needs.”
“We have a good working relationship with Southport Job Centre via our excellent Welfare Advice Team. The judgement is good news for everyone involved.”
In these extraordinary times, the charity is expecting a surge in Southport & Formby residents, who may be losing jobs, in debt or are unfamiliar with the benefits system. We are here for them to help and will help through the procedures. Simply text your details to 07526 897384 or for information www.compassionacts.uk/advice
Back to Blog
Trustee Board Announcements
We recently bid farewell and gave a huge 'thank you' to our chair of trustees, Rev'd Richard Vernon, who is also Senior Pastor of Lakeside Church. As he steps down from the Board, due to pressures on his time, everyone in the charity assured him of their thanks and prayers. Richard has been involved with the charity or its predecessor organisations for many years and has a real passion for this kind of ministry.
Taking over the Chair of our Trustees is Allan Salisbury MBE.
We are also pleased to welcome two new trustees. Marlyn Banham and Alex Holdsworth
We will update our 'about us' section in due course.
Our Food Pantry at Grace Baptist Church in the town centre has remained open, but with massively adapted systems since the beginning of the crisis. Our wonderful team there receive great feedback from the Pantry members for going that extra mile. They are opening the shop itself now, with appropriate safety measures. This means people once again get an increased range of goods which they can select themselves. The Pantry is also taking new referrals via our 'advice & support' team only.
Foodbank Opening Details (Wednesdays from July onwards)
From July 1st 2020 we will be starting up our Foodbank session at Scarisbrick New Road Baptist Church from 1pm- to 3pm every Wednesday until further notice. It is a great central location for the town.This means that the emergency Wednesday session at Lakeside Church will no longer operate.
As a reminder, Southport Foodbank provides 3 to 5 days of food supply for people in emergency . In other words for those who who haven't eaten and/or have no prospect of accessing food in the immediate future. Sadly this could be common among any demographic or social group. Usually a professional or agency makes a referral locally - however it is also possible to self refer by calling 0808 2082138 for free (open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm). You’ll confidentially talk to a trained agent and, if needed, they’ll issue you with a food bank e-voucher.
Back to Blog
Help us face the "recovery phase" of COVID-19 with confidence.
In the early weeks of the crisis the numbers using the Foodbank rose by over 80% - but thankfully all of those thanked above rose to the challenge and every single day saw new donations coming in. Wonderful!
As we plan for the surge of new clients this autumn, we are now appealing for people to divert their efforts into monthly donations of funds.
As little as £5 per month, gift aided, can make a huge difference. If as a charity we know we have these sums coming in we can PLAN and PROTECT our services from the expected autumn/winter demand.
Simply set up via your own online/telephone/high street branch banking order. Our details are below. If you are a UK taxpayer and are able to 'gift aid' please return a form to us.
Account Name: Compassion Acts Bank: HSBC, Southport Sort Code: 40-42-30 Account Number: 52071665
Back to Blog
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 (18 - 24 May) and though it’s good to take a moment to remember those who are impacted, this is a subject which we’re aware of all year round.
Chief Executive Richard Owens explains, “In many ways we are a mental health charity because we see people in their crisis moments. In the last year we have helped 300 welfare clients, and, through Foodbank, fed over 5,000 people.
When people come to us they are often at their lowest point but thanks to our dedicated team of volunteers and staff we’re able to help them put into place the practical building blocks to a better life, which then helps their mental health. Many of our staff and some of our volunteers undertook two days of 'mental health first aid' training oin 2019.
Our welfare team fights for benefits they’re entitled to, or help take steps to get them out of debt. And once some people are through crisis we may move them on from Foodbank to Food Pantry and our Next Steps café.
“We have many clients who are so thankful for our support, they tell us how it has halted their decline into depression and improved their physical – and mental – wellbeing.
“And we in turn would like to thank all our volunteers and supporters, everyone who has helped with food or money or time donations – your work really does help people. This year’s Mental Health Awareness theme is kindness, but I’d like to say it’s the kindness of all those who help us – all year round, not just for a week – which means we can help so many people with their mental health. Thank you.”
If you’re currently experiencing problems with debt, navigating the welfare benefits system or are struggling with the isolation or anxiety around the social/economic impact of COVID-19 and need a listening ear, text our confidential service.
Simply text your name to 07526 897384 or online via www.compassionacts.uk/advice Advisors will be in contact within 24 hours on weekdays.