At The Welcome Centre, we have spent more than 20 years helping families and individuals in crisis with food, toiletries, and other essentials through our food bank. More recently, we recognised a growing need to offer people we help advice, guidance and support to tackle the underlying issues causing them to be in crisis. We continue to offer both practical support and guidance and advice to anyone in our community who needs our help.
However, since we first opened the doors to our food bank we have strongly believed that food banks should not exist in the UK in this day and age. Crisis food provision is not a sustainable solution to financial hardship; nobody should have to turn to a food bank to feed themselves or their family. Our vision is to close the doors to our food bank because it is no longer needed. The only way this can happen is if everyone has enough income, from work and social welfare, to buy the essentials they need to live.
In support of our vision, we are therefore committed to raising awareness of food poverty issues and advocating on behalf of those experiencing food poverty. The Welcome Centre is a member of the Independent Food Aid Network, Feeding Britain, and National Energy Action. We support a range of campaigns, on an ongoing basis, to improve the circumstances of people experiencing food poverty.
Current campaigns include:
- Reducing food insecurity and poverty through cash-first interventions at a national level (Independent Food Aid Network)
- Implementation of a social tariff in energy, to help ensure that energy becomes affordable to the most vulnerable people in society (National Energy Action)
- Automatic registration among all eligible families for Healthy Start (Feeding Britain)
- Implementation of a national ‘Yellow Card’ scheme in place of immediate benefit sanctions (Feeding Britain)
- Ensuring social security payments are calculated using a method which safeguards households’ ability to afford an adequate diet(Feeding Britain)
- Need to reform eligibility criteria for free school meals in England (Feeding Britain)
As long as we are needed, we will continue to support people in crisis with immediate practical support, and to offer advice and guidance to change individual circumstances. Alongside this, we feel that we have a growing responsibility to advocate for systemic change, and we will speak out to help tackle the root causes of poverty and hopefully make food poverty a thing of the past.