Below is a brief history of the origins of Brackley Foodbank and how it has evolved. Click here for information about getting involved with the Foodbank now.
The idea of a foodbank, or something like it, is not a new one. Throughout human history, communities have had store houses or tythe barns to help them through the hard times. The foodbank is, in many ways, an extension of this principle.
The first, so-called foodbank in Europe was established in France in 1984. Twenty years later, the Trussell Trust was established in 2004 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and now supports over 1,200 centres in the UK. In total, there are now over 2,500 foodbanks in the UK, including independent organisations such as Brackley Foodbank.
The Brackley Foodbank was initiated by Jenny Nisbet and the Reverend Duncan Tuck, then Minister of the Brackley Community Church, in April 2010. To give some idea of scale, in the very early days, the food was stored in Rev Tuck’s garage. After a while, the church closed, the minster moved away and Churches in Brackley took over the running of the Foodbank with much of the work being undertaken at the Brackley Baptist Church.
The food distribution was at first done from the Town Hall and food was available for the people needed it two days a week. When the Town Hall closed for restoration, the distribution point moved to the library, which worked well for many years and where we were made very welcome.
Eventually, local resident Alan Perkins took over the running of the Foodbank, assisted by a growing number of volunteers. As demand grew, Alan worked hard to stabilise the infrastructure of the Foodbank and acted as the coordinator of its activities.
At the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic arrived, it was necessary to close the distribution point and instead all requests for food parcels were delivered by a small army of new volunteers. Alan and others worked quickly and tirelessly to organise this new way of working. To give some idea of what this was like at the time, on 29th April 2020 Alan wrote the following:
“As matters concerning COVID-19 started to get serious, many of the volunteers in the vulnerable zone felt the need to self-isolate. Within a week, numbers had dropped to four and shut down seemed unavoidable. The remaining receptionist, two storekeepers and the coordinator put their heads together and, on the anniversary of its foundation, Brackley Foodbank Mk 2 was formed.
The answer lay on the desk, in the computer of the Coordinator. The Foodbank went ‘online’. All the voucher holders, schools, doctors, churches, social workers and housing associations were contacted and all agreed to use emails and attachments to send a request to the Foodbank, copied to the client. There followed a short intense retraining, conducted by email (what else?!).
By this stage, offers of help were pouring in by phone and email so it was not difficult to recruit a dozen delivery drivers. The two storekeepers worked opposing shifts in order to distance each other. The receptionist collected from the supermarkets in the town and the coordinator kept account of the incoming calls and drew up driver rotas and delivery schedules.”
…and so it went on.
What started out as a small project storing food in a minister’s garage now fills a warehouse on the Buckingham Road industrial site. Local people, businesses and stores have always been very generous in both donating the food that is needed and offering financial support to help keep the Foodbank in constant operation. Brackley Foodbank is, and always has been, run and staffed entirely by volunteers.
Thanks to the foresight of Rev Duncan Tuck and Jenny Nesbit, followed by Alan Perkins and countless other volunteers and helpers over the years (thank you David, Les, Lyn, May, Michael, Ruth, Terry and everyone) the Foodbank remains in good health and continues to serve the community.