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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.