THIS is the woman who has taken on responsibility for ensuring those in crisis across Redditch do not go hungry.
Helen Gallagher has become the first paid manager of Redditch Foodbank on a part-time basis. The charity Acts of Kindness, which oversees the foodbank, decided they needed to make the appointment due to the rapidly increasing demand for the service.
Between its launch on September 9 last year and August 1 the foodbank has fed 1,612 people – more than a quarter of which are children – and given out 16.2 tonnes of food.
Mrs Gallagher only moved to Redditch earlier this year with her husband and brings with her a wealth of experience. She previously helped establish and managed the foodbank in Medway, Kent which in three years grew from two centres to seven.
“It’s remarkable the growth of foodbanks.” she told the Standard.
“There’s now over 400 in the Trussell Trust network and the model they have developed is excellent because it’s based on giving vouchers from a local referral agency so it’s not the volunteers deciding who needs food but professionals.
“Foodbanks were around before the credit crunch in 2008 but since then, and the changes in welfare that have come in because of austerity measures, that’s really created the increase in the need for foodbanks. We are seeing more people who are on low incomes or in part-time employment and it only takes one crisis – a problem with the boiler or an issue with the car – and they find they don’t have enough money to make it to the end of the month and that’s the scenario for many people, it’s not just people who fancy a free bag of food.”
The foodbank has also appointed Tom King as new volunteer co-ordinator.
Rev Robin Baker, chairman of Redditch Foodbank, said they had enough food to cope with demand currently but extra donations of essentials such as jams, milk, sugar and juices were needed.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everybody again for their generosity because the people of Redditch really are very generous people.”
He added the charity would also be running its Christmas project again this year which in 2013 donated hampers to 100 families most in need and delivered £30 worth of toys donated by the public to 192 children.