The Bishop of Dorking the Rt Revd Ian Brackley visited Farnham Foodbank’s satellite distribution post in St Mark’s Centre, Hale, today to support the work of volunteers helping families facing difficult times.
The centre has provided 284 meals since it opened two years ago for two hours a week in response to a need to extend the foodbank north of the town. This figure is just for Hale and is for a 2 year period. The overall total for 2013 was just over 1400 compared to just 800 in 2012. The food that is given out lasts each person for 3 meals a day for 3 days and isn’t just for one meal.
Bishop Ian also heard about the work of the joint church project Families Matter, based in the parish to support families in the area with school age children.
The ecumenical project trains befrienders to help families by providing a listening ear and practical support such as helping families access local activities and services, taking children to clubs or supporting parents on visits to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The Revd Lesley Crawley, a priest in the parish of Hale with Badshot Lea said: “We are passionate about meeting the needs of our community. Churches of all denominations have come together to be part of the solution to the problems faced by many on our doorsteps.
“One week recently there were three families waiting when the foodbank opened at 11am.
“Befrienders are making a real difference to families by showing parents they are not alone or forgotten. The project continues to grow – so much so that we urgently need new befrienders.
”We were delighted to welcome Bishop Ian and hope that his visit will help more people understand about the work taking place here. It would be an added bonus if a few more people stepped forward to volunteer as a result!”
Families Matter, managed by the Diocese of Guildford’s communities engagement team, also runs courses for parents that have children described as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or with social communication problems.
Families Matter coordinator Jane Voake said: “It is a privilege to work in this community and to be able to help families build resilience. Since we started in October we have supported around 30 families and have seen lives turned around.
“Parents are facing significant challenges and while we have no magic wand it is remarkable how much of a difference it can make having someone walk beside you in tough times.”
Bishop Ian said: “I first heard about the work happening here when a parishioner wrote to me and I immediately wanted to come and see it first hand for myself.
“Research issued last week by the Church Urban Fund shows that 10 million adults a year in England use community services from churches and here we have a fine example of churches coming together and individuals putting their faith into action to serve others and build strong relationships and hence a stronger community.”
For more details about Families Matter or how to become a befriender call Families Matter Coordinator Jane Voake on 07827 567014