Tag: food bank

Food and baby bank donations from Asda – thank you!


PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is from 2013 and we no longer run a baby bank at Gateway. If you have items to donate, you could try Birmingham Baby Bank Central.


asda1We were delighted to receive donations for our food and baby bank from two generous Asda stores this week.

Knowing that many of our POW (Pregnancy Outreach Worker) clients are in need of basic essentials, and to coincide with this year’s International Women’s Day, staff at Asda Cape Hill generously offered to organise an in-store food bank drive for Gateway.

Judah Griffith, who is a Community Life Champion for Asda, explained, “At the Cape Hill store, we wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day, which was on 8th March. Rather than just a day, however, we organised a whole week of activities.

“I was already aware of Gateway – they’ve helped me with my voluntary work in the past – so I got in touch and asked how we might best be able to help their POWS clients. Gateway responded with a list of items they’re most in need of and we got to work.”

Pregnancy Outreach Worker Caroline (second from right) with Asda's Community Life Champion Judah (right) and other Asda staff
Pregnancy Outreach Worker Caroline (second from right) with Asda’s Community Life Champion Judah (right) and other Asda staff

Staff at the Cape Hill store distributed leaflets with information about the POW service and asked customers to buy an extra item from a POW shopping list, which they could then drop in to a donations trolley on the way out.

The staff themselves then clubbed together to top up customers’ donations with their own, and asked their colleagues at the Small Heath store to do the same.

Thanks to the generosity of customers and staff, we now have some much needed parcels to give to our most disadvantaged families.

Where do donations go?

The donations have been made up into parcels which our POWs have already started taking out to their clients.

These food and toiletry parcels help us to help new mums and their families through particularly tough times.

There are lots of reasons that our POW clients find themselves in need of help to tide them over. Many women are eligible for benefits but experience delays in payment, especially during the move from Income Support to Maternity Allowance. Some women are between homes – fleeing domestic abuse, for example, or evicted from the family home. Some have fled their home country to seek asylum and have no recourse to public funds. All are trying to give their babies the best possible start despite their own vulnerability and needs, so a little help goes a long way.

We’d like to say a big “thank you!” to everyone who donated to the Asda drive.

If you’d like to donate…

We’re always very grateful for donations of food and baby essentials for our new mums and mums-to-be. If you think you might be able to help, please give us a call on 0121 456 7820.

"Thank you. The things you gave for the baby are going to come in handy as my claim for maternity grant was returned, so there will be a delay." - POW client Nikita
“Thank you. The things you gave for the baby are going to come in handy as my claim for maternity grant was returned, so there will be a delay.” – POW client Nikita

The things we find really useful for our food and toiletry bank are:

Tinned Food
Toiletries (baby/women)
Long life Milk
Dried spices

The toiletries that are especially appreciated include nappies and maternal sanitary pads, both of which are essential for new mums, but expensive to stock up on.

We also work closely with Narthex, who often provide food parcels to our clients. If you’re in the Sparkhill/Sparkbrook area and you want to give food to those in need, please consider taking donations to Narthex. We know they would be glad of them.

In fact there are many food banks operating in and around Birmingham.  If you’re interested in finding out more, The Trussell Trust have compiled a foodbank map showing what’s available.

Baby banks – not just for Christmas


PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is from 2013 and we no longer run a baby bank at Gateway. If you have items to donate, you could try Birmingham Baby Bank Central.


Food banks have been in the news more than ever this year and recently the papers have picked up on the idea of “baby banks”, like ours, which collect and distribute baby products to families in need.

baby-parcelOur Pregnancy Outreach Workers have been busy this week making up Christmas hampers for their clients… but they don’t just give out parcels at Christmas. There’s an increasing need for donated toiletries, nappies and baby food all year round. Many families are on a low income that has stayed low as prices have gone up. Many are eligible for benefits but experience delays in payment. Some are between homes – fleeing domestic abuse, or seeking asylum. All are trying to give their babies the best possible start despite their own vulnerability and needs.

Here are some comments from clients who have been helped by parcels from our POW service over the last few months, whether that’s from our own bank of donations, or with a lift to one of Birmingham’s other foodbanks, like those at Narthex’s Sparkhill Food Bank or the Trussell Trust’s Birmingham Central Foodbank.

Making a difference – in our clients’ own words

In August, Daniele* said:

You accompany me to charity to get food parcel and baby things and which was very helpful thank you so much.

Diane* said:

today you came to my new flat that i moved into on saturday an brought me lots of baby things an a food parcel thankyou for everything you have done im realy greatful.

and Nishat* said:

You gave me book on pregnancy and leaflets on healthy diet. You have also informed me that you have been able to obtain a moses basket and will drop it of later. I feel so much better knowing that my child will have the necessary items. I was worried because i have left work and made a claim for benefits just recently. My claim is still being assesed and at the moment i have no money. You have been kind enough to supply me with a food parcel aswell. I feel so much better knowing that you are their to support me.

In September, Fozia* said:

Mariam came and brought me food parcel which is good as i have had no benefit for 2 weeks.she also brought me a moses basket changing mat, bath bouncer and clothes for baby thank you very much for everything

and Husna* said:

You gave me a food parcel. This has helped me so much as i live by myself these food parcels will last about a week. I cant thank you enough, now i can use the little amount of money i have to pay a instalment on the water, gas and electric bill.

in October Tamsin* said:

You went with me to Narthex for clothes and items for baby such as blankets, coat, moses basket, bath, baby gym, toiletries for my hospital stay, steriliser, nappies and changing mat. You also went with me to a charity shiop to buy a car seat and bouncer from gateway hardship fund. Thank you so much Miriam I do not know what I would have done without you’re support.

in November, Laila* said:

My benefit claim is still in process. I did not have much money, my pow has bought me two bags of food aswell as baby items such as clothes. God bless you all. In hard times you were there

and, just two weeks ago, teenager Gemma* said:

Im really worried about my baby being taken off me by social services. Im worried about everything and now I got to go behind my partners back and leave him. I’m scared but know its the right thing as my baby comes first. I haven’t got much money and today my POW gave me baby clothes, toiletries, blankets and food and I really appreciate it and making me excited for my baby to arrive.

hampers2Our baby bank is in demand all year round – but, at Christmas, we try and give some of our clients a bit extra with a Christmas hamper. The hampers contain not just food and baby essentials, but some gifts for mum and any other children in the family.

The bank holidays and delayed post mean that it can be more difficult to get help over the Christmas and New Year period; many of our clients find themselves in need over the holidays. So, even if a family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, the hampers are welcome.

In the video below, Catherine is putting together a hamper for her client Maya*. Whilst recovering from a C Section, Maya’s benefits were stopped due to a mix-up at the Jobcentre. “She signed something she didn’t understand, because her English is very limited and there was no interpreter,” Catherine says, “and it stopped her benefits. When she realised what had happened, she made lots of attempts to appeal and, finally, I wrote a long letter in her support.

“But, even once it had been agreed that her benefits should be reinstated, it took another two weeks for her to receive them. It was a real mess, because of course she’d got a new baby and she was still recovering from the birth, and suddenly found herself with no money. We had to give her and her family some food, from our own donations and from Narthex, during those weeks. She’s had a really tough time, so this is just a little gesture from us.”

Thank you to everyone who donated – and continues to donate – to the Gateway food and baby banks. We wouldn’t be able to give out our Christmas hampers without the donations we receive from Healthy Minds, Birmingham Registry, Vineyard Network Church and The Samaritans Purse, who’ve provided us with lots of hand knitted baby clothes and blankets.

*names have been changed

Creating cooking mentors to help new mums

cooking mentorsWe reckon our POWs could help new mums even more if they were able to show them how to cook a few quick and easy things. So we’re training our staff to do just this.

Gateway regularly works with families who are managing on very low income. Our Pregnancy Outreach Workers report that, for some clients, money is so restricted that they have to make a choice between paying the bills and the weekly food shop.

Some women are choosing to feed their families before themselves, which is not advisable for anyone – but particularly not if they are pregnant.

We realised some time ago that we needed a way of providing immediate help to those who need it, and the combination of our food bank and hardship payments already do that. However, this is emergency help and it isn’t a long term answer. It bridges a gap, but it’s only viable for a few days. There’s a real need for something more sustainable.

Sharing cooking skills

We’ve found that part of the issue is that people don’t know how to buy and prepare meals that are both cheap and nutritious. Often, a shopping budget can stretch much further if you buy raw ingredients, rather than prepared items, but this requires you to know what to do with them.

So we’re training a number of staff in the skills they would need to be able to run cooking sessions. They’ll then be in a position to show their clients how to buy the right sorts of ingredients and how to prepare meals that fit more easily into a limited budget.

The “Cooking Mentors” training is being delivered by the Food and Dietetic Department of the Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust. It includes nutrition advice and an element of practical food preparation. As part of this training the Mentors will be completing a Basic Food Hygiene Certificate and given all the other tools they need to teach others.

Once they’ve completed all this, the Cooking Mentors will be ready to start sharing their knowledge and giving new mums some new skills, either in one-to-one, in a client’s home, or by providing a “healthy eating” workshop in a group session.

Here Caroline and Lindsey, two of our POWs, talk about how they’ll be using their new skills:

We recognise that not everyone who takes part in the sessions will have the relevant cooking equipment in their home, or the money to buy initial ingredients, so we hope to be able to offer a starter pack for those who need it, too.

This is not a project we are being funded to provide. We’ve seen that there’s a gap and – as is so often the case – we want to fill it.

Can you help?

A big thank you to Foghorn Improv, who donated the proceeds from one of their recent comedy nights, which has really helped with setting up costs for this project. We’re hoping to be able to provide most of the food basics and cooking equipment via the funds and contacts we already have, but we’d be very glad of further donations.

So if you have (unused) cooking equipment and think our Mentors could make use of it, please pass it along. Alternatively, if you want to help but don’t have any kitchen utensils to donate, you could provide supermarket vouchers for us to buy food or cooking equipment.

Of course, we hope the Cooking Mentors will be part of a longer term solution for food poverty, but food is still essential and many people are still in need of emergency donations, especially over the winter.

As well as running our own bank for food and essentials, we work closely with Narthex, who often provide food parcels to our clients. If you’re in the Sparkhill/Sparkbrook area and you want to give food to those in need, please take donations to Narthex. We know they would be glad of them.

In fact there are many foodbanks operating in and around Birmingham.  If you’re interested in finding out more The Trussell Trust have compiled a foodbank map showing what’s available.

‘No food for a week’ – support from Gateway

Our pregnancy outreach workers find themselves doing remarkably simple things to help women get the help they need for a healthy pregnancy.

Here Lynette is loading up her car with food donated by friends, relatives and staff at Gateway.  This is common because we often find women who can’t afford to buy basic food.

We’re not alone in doing this. Food Banks are becoming more common.   Fare Share is a national food bank charity which has a depot in Nechells – handing out food parcels. In  September the National Lottery granted £425,000 to a the Narthex group in Sparkhill

A Big Lottery award of £425,000 to the charity Narthex Sparkhill sees a commitment to opening and running a five-year funded food bank in Sparkhill.  The National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund, has made this grant to Narthex which will enable them to expand the work they are already doing amongst some of the most needy people in the city.

Sparkhill food bank project will address the needs of the most vulnerable within the community including people placed in sudden financial crisis due to change in personal circumstances leading to financial hardship and in some case destitution or homelessness.

Like us, the Ladywood Food Bank relies on donations from the public for its work across the constituency, plus donations from Tesco’s Morrisons, Sainsbury’s Cost-Co, Asda, Aldi, Farm Foods and other businesses.

Food is fundamental and the pregnancy outreach workers provide a critical link – they know when women are short of food and make sure they get the help they need.