The Good Shepherd charity are holding an awareness week to mark their 50th anniversary and appealing for donations of £3 – the price of a meal – to support the delivery of their food and support services across the community.
It is 50 years since the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd first arrived in Wolverhampton to help people experiencing homelessness, and the charity is staging several events across the year to honour the Brothers’ work and also raise funds and awareness.
The theme for the year is the phrase ‘It Starts With A Meal’, which first originated from the Good Shepherd charity working in Canada, describing how providing food and hospitality is merely the starting point for then providing additional help in other areas of people’s lives.
This week of awareness, from July 2-9, will also focus on the need to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfill and will kick off with a coffee and cake sale featuring produce which has been prepared from food which would otherwise have been thrown away.
This forms a key part of the Good Shepherd’s food operation, and in the last three months over 7.5 tonnes of potential food waste has been received. These items have both been distributed to our families and service users and around £3,000-worth of waste stock has been cooked in the kitchen.
“Whilst the Good Shepherd now provides so many different support services to those who need us in Wolverhampton, food is the magnet which initially draws people in who are in need,” says Business and Finance Manager Helen Holloway.
“It costs us around £140,000 to run our food service every year, and that figure would be considerably higher if it wasn’t for receiving donations of food from the local community and food distributors which includes their excess stock.
“The concept of food hunger and food waste is something we are passionate about as food has always been at the heart of what we do.
“We receive an abundance of fruit and vegetables which are surplus to other people’s requirements and, as an example of what can be done, I am going to incorporate these into the cakes I make.
“We look forward to welcoming people to the Good Shepherd and at the same time would encourage anyone else who feels able to organise their own event and maybe make use of some ingredients that they would otherwise throw away.”
Good Shepherd CEO Tom Hayden has also taken part in his own event to raise money for the charity’s Family Food Pantry, walking 50 miles alongside Housing First Key Worker Paul Burns to mark 50 years of the charity, before then climbing Snowdon!
The importance of raising funds and awareness is amplified by the challenges currently being faced within the community around the rising cost of living crisis.
Between January and March of this year there was a 38% increase in families accessing the Family Food Pantry, and a 47% increase in new people accessing the food service.
During the three months a total of 4,706 hot meals were provided and 2,410 food parcels for families and individuals.
“In the event of a substantially increased demand for our services due in part to the current cost of living crisis, we have decided to hold an awareness week to try and raise funds to support our food operations and also mark our Golden Anniversary,” said Tom.
“We know times are very difficult for so many within the community at the moment, but if people feel able to spare £3, which we see as the cost of a meal, it can have a hugely positive impact for those who are really struggling to get by.
“And as the phrase ‘It Starts With A Meal’ indicates, what we so often find is that once people engage with us because they need food, we can then help them address other areas of their lives and, in so many cases, bring about sustained and positive change.
“That is why fundraising via this awareness week is so important, and perhaps schools, businesses or faith organisations can get involved by holding their own collections or staging their own event whether that be a dress-down day, cake sale or something else.
“Not for many years has there been such a need for all of us to come together to support the most vulnerable within society, and hopefully this week of awareness will be a reminder of the spirit of care and compassion which underpins everything we do at the Good Shepherd, and which we have seen so often shine through among the people of Wolverhampton.”
Click here to make a donation to the campaign.