By Alex Sanderson
Did you know? This amazing local team of volunteers have been feeding people in need in our villages since April 2020!
How does St Mary’s fit in? St Mary’s is the local parish church in Ash Vale. As well as Sunday services, we love to serve our amazing community all week long! We host community groups – everything from toddlers to choir to Friday Community Cafe. Nearby, we work with the local Methodist Circuit to run the Chapel Project on Wharf Rd. We offer a Monday Chapel Cafe & warm hub there, host the Chapel Kids toddler group with lunch club, and provide summer picnics, monthly makes and other community, creativity and arts events. In these difficult times our most important project is the Ash Villages Food Parcels Project (and our Community Fridge opening Summer 2023). We work together with Carla Morson and a superb team of volunteers from both the church and the Ash Villages Support Circle, feeding 20-40 families every week.
What does the project do? The Ash Villages Food Parcels Project serves our neighbours in Ash, Ash Vale, Ash Green and Tongham. We deliver emergency food and toiletries to local people in crisis, and offer a listening ear. Twice a week teams go out in the evening to collect donations of bread and perishables from the supermarkets and others shop for the best value items to top this up, to make a balanced food parcel. We add these to the food items donated by local people and then pack the parcels the following morning, ready to go out to local people in need.
How do we help people? Our Food Parcels project helps local people in crisis, by providing emergency food and toiletries. This includes ‘baby bank’ items eg nappies. Referrals come from CAB, Wellbeing Team, Social Services, DWP and local churches too. As well as food, we offer a listening ear, and help to connect people to other sources of help, including Monday Chapel Cafe and local warm hubs. We are passionate about connecting with people to battle against the anxiety, isolation and mental strain that goes hand in hand with food poverty, not just providing a one-off parcel. The lovely thing is, that lots of people who receive a parcel later go on to volunteer or donate to help others once they are back on their feet. This community is truly amazing!
How can local people help? We can all work together to help our neighbours. Our volunteers are amazing at what they do and we can always use more hands on deck. The other issue is of course funding. Typically we spend around £400 per week on basic essentials for the parcels, to top up what comes in as donated items. Please help us to keep the food parcels filled and keep the Chapel doors open for a warm welcome. Here’s the donations link:
You can donate once or sign up for a regular gift. If 100 people could regularly give £4 a week we could cover the food costs! Will you join us?
You can also donate items for the parcels direct to us. We use the app called “Bank the food” to let our supporters know what is most needed each week. You can text or phone us and ask if you’d like more information: 07730609446
Thank you for your support. It makes all the difference to local people in need. Let’s make sure we can proudly say that in our lovely community, none of our neighbours go hungry.
Thank you for your support.