Helping to break the cycle of poverty in Gloucestershire

24 May 2023

Home>Foundation News>Helping to break the cycle of poverty in Gloucestershire

The Symondson Family was first made aware of Cirencester Foodbank when a taxi driver friend of theirs explained to them that during lockdown, he became a volunteer driver, delivering food and household essentials to people in need across 210 square miles of the south Cotswolds. Established in 2012, Cirencester Foodbank expanded during the pandemic, and is now strategically realising their ambition to work more holistically with those ‘invisible’ and vulnerable members of society their foodbank referrals help to identify. Their creation of a new role for a Family Engagement Worker forms a vital part of their initiative to tackle food poverty at the root.

Part of the Trussell Trust family, Cirencester Foodbank is run by a team of locals, supported by a fleet of volunteers, who work collectively to help local people in crisis. In the past year, they have distributed 51 tonnes of toiletries and food, and 50% of their food provision went to children of struggling families. Around three-quarters of the food provided to children was for primary school-aged children or younger, and educational establishments equated to 36% of all referrals in this period. Whilst they are in the habit of collecting data to better under the landscape of need, there is currently a lack of data as to why families are being referred to the foodbank, or how many may be facing food insecurity who could – but are not – accessing its service.

The employment of a Family Engagement Worker (FE) is a part of the foodbank’s strategy for gaining a better understanding of the reasons and dynamics behind food poverty, so that they, and others working in the sector, can develop initiatives to tackle root causes. The FE will gather data, develop relationships with families and staff at educational settings, identify support needs and, where possible, provide advice by signposting to appropriate partner agencies. To ensure a clear strategy remains in place, specific, measurable objectives will be an integral part of the project at intervals throughout.

The Symondson Foundation fully supports the vision of Cirencester Foodbank, and the many ways in which they “go-beyond” to understand and support the needs of the community. We hope, too, to learn from the findings of the Family Engagement Officer.

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