A recent report sent to Hertford & District Churches Together




Another 2 months have gone by since our last update at the beginning of August, so here is our latest news.

The first piece of good news is that we are delighted to report that the Foodbank team has received a ‘Heroes of Hertford Award’ by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire. Certificates and badges have been given to those Volunteers who have been helping over the last seven months, all of who were really pleased to have received the recognition.

The Foodbank has seen a huge number of donations from various Harvest Festivities, particularly local schools, as well as the continuous flow of donations from our Collection Points in local supermarkets. We are in great shape as we head towards winter both with plenty of stock and with our finances. We are also glad to report that we are providing certain Clients with a £10 ‘fresh food’ voucher for Tesco. Our gratitude also goes to the allotment holders in Hertford Health for their supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables over the past few months, both of these additions have helped to make our food parcels more interesting and nutritious.

Below are the figures for September 2020 and, for comparison, September 2019.  


September 2020 -

186 people were fed, 69 of which were children

Stock issued 3271 kg including 1038 kg passed to other Foodbanks

Stock donated 2247 kg   Current stock level 6835 kg

September 2019

139 people fed, 21 of which were children

We thought you might be interested to see how the last six months compared with the same period last year.

Since the financial year - 01/04/20 - 30/09/20

1880 people fed, of which 806 were children

01/04/19 - 30/09/19

947 people fed, of which 256 were children


We think those badges were very well earned!

Going forward and due to the current Covid situation, we think it is unlikely that we will return to the old way of operating the Foodbank with clients coming in for a chat and a cup of tea whilst we are picking their food parcel. Hopefully this will happen sometime next year and we will keep this under review. In the meantime we think we are well prepared for an increase in demand over the next few months.

Clients are still being referred to us through various Agencies and each Client still has advice and help in trying to improve their individual situations. If we are approached by individual Clients we continue to give referrals to Agencies and are able to advise on the best way forward for them and to make sure that they are receiving the correct Benefits.

You may remember that we had reported another Foodbank Centre opening in Ware. The Foodbank now has two distribution Centres from which clients can collect food parcels:

  1. United Reformed Church, Cowbridge, Hertford which is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10am to 11am
  2. St Mary the Virgin, Church Street, Ware which is open on Tuesday and Wednesday 3pm to 4pm

Our van is in constant use daily and over the year that it has been in use we have covered 4000 miles, saving 1 ton of CO2 emissions and only costing us £66.80 along with some free charging that we had access to.

As it is pretty certain that there will be no ‘Christmas Alone’ this year at Sele School, thought will be given to combining an initiative together with the Foodbank to do something at Christmas.

Thank you again for your prayers and support.

Fran Spence



News from the Foodbank as at Saturday 25th April

118 fed this week… another extremely busy week. 116 the week before and the two previous weeks numbers in the 80’s.

Extreme generosity from many – yesterday for example we took delivery of food from someone who wanted to fill a lorry up from Brake Brothers and spent £500 in doing so, there have been many other examples with financial donations coming in as well to enable us to buy essential stock.  

Extreme devotion to duty - Cheryl heroically coping with countless calls from clients and agencies and all the problems that arise accordingly. A small team doing all the deliveries and packing and the admin team behind them.   We are so grateful for such amazing support

Please keep the vital work of the foodbank in your prayers at this time.


Given to H&DCT Annual General Meeting 6 November

Over the past few months the Foodbank has experienced its busiest time ever since opening in April 2013.  In the period 1st April to 30 September 2019 we fed a total of 1094 people (30% were children) against 630 for the same period last year. This amounts to a 73% increase. Since mid-October the numbers have fallen a bit and levelled off to average numbers again, although we did feed 14 last Friday. Apart from the increase in clients and all the work that is involved, we have also had our busiest time yet in receiving Harvest donations from local schools and churches. We took 4,500kg over a period of 3-4 weeks, and bearing in mind that we only usually keep a stock of just over 2,000kg it shows what we had to cope with. Every bit of space is being used and we have also been able to help other organisations by passing some of our non-core stock on, namely to a Foodbank in Euston, a homeless shelter in Stevenage and other caring agencies locally. We are very indebted to our Store Manager and his team for coping with this increase in their workload and of course to all our other volunteers for dealing with such an increase in client numbers.

You may have seen our electric Nissan Van with its Foodbank signage on the local roads. It has certainly been put to good use over the past few weeks especially helping with the distribution and collection of stock. There will be some local publicity released soon with ASDA who donated £25,000 towards the purchase of the van. All Saints have kindly offered to park the van on their premises.

Apart from operating the Foodbank, there is a considerable demand for speakers to visit schools, young people’s clubs, church groups and to have visiting groups visit the Foodbank to see how it operates.

Ware Foodbank

We are pleased to let you know that as from Wednesday 6th November and each Wednesday between 1 pm and 2 pm a team at St Mary’s Parish Church in Ware will be offering Emergency Food Boxes to those vulnerable and needy folks in Ware who used to be supported by the Salvation Army. We have put together specific emergency food parcels for them amounting to approximately 10 kg core range food, roughly the same quantity the Salvation Army used to issue. Unfortunately the price of clearing the site, delivery, and installing an accessible toilet for the new container unit has increased significantly and the Ware Steering Committee are currently seeking extra funding. 

Our work continues and although sometimes quite draining it is a privilege to be associated with such a worthwhile and necessary outreach to the Community by Hertford & District Churches Together. Thank you all for your support and prayers

PS - To Hertford URC

Thank you for being so tolerant of all the extra storage we have had to use round the church – and the many ‘comings and goings’ of vans and cars. Our buildings have really been on a mission over the past few weeks. As well as Harvest, donations that have only just finished, we have had the Tesco National Collection (nearly double on last year) and Bengeo Scout and Cubs collection. This will keep us going well into the New Year. These donations are also being used to give food parcels to the local ‘Christians Against Poverty’ organization and our ‘Christmas Alone’ gift boxes.

News from the Foodbank


First of all thank you to everyone faithfully putting items into the wheelbarrow or giving money for stock to be purchased. This all helps so much to keep our shelves full.

During August when we expect to be busier because school meals are not available, we were actually 10% down on numbers from last year. However since then numbers have gone up dramatically and we have been very busy, September looks as if it will be one of our busiest months. Hopefully donations will be coming in from local Churches and Schools as they celebrate Harvest thanksgiving.

There is also some more news on the opening of the Ware Foodbank Centre. Due to the generosity of the trustees of ‘The Ware Charities’ our Ware Foodbank team have secured funding of £28,242 to purchase a refurbished shipping container as premises for the Ware Foodbank.  The container will come fitted with kitchen and toilet facilities, heating, lighting and storage space.  It will be situated within the Broadmead car park near Ware station and replace an existing dilapidated building owned by C U Phosco Ltd.  Phosco have agreed to pay for the removal and disposal of the old building and build a new concrete base to take the container.  We are now in the hands of the planning authorities for the necessary approvals.  Once these are obtained the order will be placed and delivery is estimated at 4 to 6 weeks.  We are also incredibly grateful for the generosity of CU Phosco Ltd for clearing the site and offering it at a peppercorn rent of £1 per annum.


JUNE 2019 - A brief update

MAY 2019 figures

Number of people fed 165 – against 116 last year

Food issued 1629 kg

Food donated 1037 kg

40% more clients attending during the month compared to last year is presenting us with the challenge of providing enough core range items to our clients particularly during a period when food donations to us fall off during the summer months.  We are having to buy stocks of food items in regularly at the moment.”

As reported in our last update this follows on from the increases we experienced at the beginning of the year when there was a 68% increase in January and February. These increases are mainly due to Universal Credit being introduced and the closure of the Salvation Army Foodbank in Ware and the.

WARE Foodstore

There is another meeting of the Ware Churches Foodbank Steering Committee in mid-June, so no further news at present. The problem has been finding suitable accommodation for the store.

Visit of Mark Prisk MP - 14 June

Our local MP will be visiting the Hertford Foodbank on Friday 14th June at our request.

ASDA Grant

A Grant for £25,000.00 has been applied for to resource an electric van to transport donations from all the Ware and Hertford supermarkets to the Hertford Store and eventually stocking the planned store in Ware. There are also trips to our Hoddesdon warehouse and sometimes the need to exchange stock with other local Foodbanks. This amount will pay for the initial outlay but we will need to maintain the van in future.

There will be a “Food Drive” at the Ware ASDA store in the week 8 – 13 July.

TIN CAN COOK BOOK We have been able to obtain 50 copies which will be a useful resource for our clients.

As you can see we are extremely busy especially keeping up with the demands of working with Trussell Trust and all the expectations that are required on our volunteers. We ask for your prayerful support and for your continued generosity in donating food.

Fran Spence


(Latest Report to be given to H&DCT AGM)

Some changes are afoot amongst the Management Team and the Trusteeship of the Foodbank. Three members of the Management Team have or will be leaving by the end of the year. Firstly we owe a great deal of gratitude to Rev. David Bradburn who retires as Chairman at the end of this year. David is one of the founder members of the Management Committee and was very instrumental in its conception and establishment in 2013. Through his leadership we have flourished as a very relevant and most worthwhile part of what all the Churches do as a united body in Hertford. David retires at the end of this year and we are extremely pleased to announce that Rev. Andrew Clark from the Baptist Church has indicated his willingness to become Chairman as from 1st January 2019.

The Committee is also sad to lose Rev. Nick Sharp who has taken another Ministry in Hoddesdon and Mo Askew who was also a founder member and a Trustee. The Committee is very grateful to them both for the contributions they have made. We are also pleased to announce that Mary Stowe, one of our original volunteers, and who now is the Volunteers’ Manager, has agreed to become a Trustee.

The number of clients fed in the first six months of our financial year April to September is 630 of which 186 were children. Numbers seem to be the same as past years at the moment and there was not the anticipated rise in demand through the school holidays, this was also reflected in other foodbanks locally.

Harvest Donations have started to come in – and could we politely mention that we do have an over supply of feminine hygiene products, the need for which had been recently highlighted in the media.   We have been able to supply the following schools: The Sele School, Simon Balle School,

Presdales School, Hertford Regional College - Ware Campus. Please could you pass this information on to those who donate in your churches. As we often say we are so grateful for all the donations that come in through Harvest gifts, these keep us going well into next year.

Other news: We have had six new Agencies taking our Vouchers; our Reception Area has had new flooring and the entrance to the Storeroom is due to be upgraded very shortly making access easier; our Christmas Collection from Tesco will take place on Thursday 29th – 1st December.




Report H&DCT Meeting 31 January 2018


Unfortunately we do not have the final up to date figures as our much-valued Stores Manager is away on a well-deserved month’s holiday to Australia.   We know however it really was one of the busiest times we have experienced in nearly 5 years of operation.  Not only were we busy with more Clients but also with the amount of food and toiletries donated over the Christmas period by churches, schools, local businesses and private individuals; all helping to keep our stocks high and seeing us through the next couple of months.  Over 2000 kg of stock was donated and one of the most successful ideas was the “Reverse Advent Calendar” when individuals donated a gift instead of receiving one.


We found ourselves helping more families this Christmas, especially larger ones.   We introduced our own ‘Fuel Poverty Scheme’ as there were no Charitable Grants available this year.   We had allocated £250 from Foodbank funds (five grants of £50 each) to go to those individuals and families who were struggling to pay for electricity/gas to heat and use their cooking facilities.  However, we had more demands for this help through CAB and a Housing Association and were grateful to the URC for a further 5 donations made through an individual donation.


We can’t stress enough about the amazing resource the Foodbank is to our Community in Hertford and how incredibly grateful we are to everyone involved, whether it’s putting a few items in a collecting box, helping to transport this, picking up from supermarkets, working in the stockroom weighing, sorting and recording, and of course very importantly, helping all those Clients that come through our doors.  Thank you to everyone concerned and especially this winter when jobs have needed to be covered through family commitments and ill health.







We had an extremely busy time on the run up to Christmas, made even busier by the very generous food donations we received from the public this year.  We wondered if this was because of the film “I, Daniel Blake” which featured a Foodbank and the very good press coverage we had from the Mercury local newspaper; this was also due mainly to the success and skills of our new Publicity Officer, Martin Ring.


We were challenged with finding extra storage for these donations and we are grateful to the URC for offering the use of one corner of their church for excess stock.  This stock will help us cope in the months ahead when the ‘Christmas effect’ has dwindled.  This is when we are so grateful to all our local churches for the steady in-flow of our core stock, either directly or through one of the local supermarket Collection Points.  To highlight this point food issued in January this year was 1102kg whereas food and toiletries donated were 737kg.  A shopping list of the most required items is always available on our website.


Fuel Poverty has also been addressed this winter and we are able to give struggling clients up to £50 towards their fuel payments.  This is accessed through the Citizen’s Advice Service.



In the next few weeks alterations are taking place to the Foodbank Reception Area giving us a more defined area for refreshments including a ‘drinks station”, this has been financed by an HCC Small Community Grant sourced through the URC.


We continue with an amazing team of volunteers and feel we are providing a very necessary service to the Community on behalf of the churches in Hertford.  Special thanks is due to our Stores Manager, Howard Ward and his team who have been exceptionally busy over the past couple of months.

Latest statistics tell us that January 2017 saw an actual “27% decrease” in clients compared with last year.  Good news!






Multicultural Church

In June 2015 a team from the URC Thames North Synod visited the Hertford & District Foodbank to write a report to be submitted to Michael Jagessar (Secretary for Racial Justice and Intercultural Ministry) in order that it could be submitted for a Multicultural Story Award within the URC .

We are delighted to be informed that Hertford URC have been given this award and it is to be presented at a Multicultural Celebration at the Church at Carrs Lane, Birmingham, on Saturday 26th September. We are hoping that someone from the Foodbank or our Church will be able to attend this Celebration to receive it on the Church’s behalf.  It sounds such an exciting event; the programme is on the back table in the Church for your information. There is also a copy of the report submitted.

It finishes at 4.00 pm with the Award to be given at 2.20 pm this should give plenty of time for anyone to travel back for the Riding Lights Production. If you are interested in doing this please contact Fran Spence or Cheryl Jackson.


Multicultural Story Award 2015

Hertford URC: Foodbank

How they began

Two years last April, an elder from Hertford URC saw a Food Collection being held in a supermarket in Welwyn Garden City.. Having never heard of such an idea before, she mistakenly thought it was to send food to starving people aboard. After further conversation she learnt that it was a way of supporting those in the local community who were finding it difficult to make ends meet. Inspired, the elder took the idea back to the eldership team, where they began to discuss the possibilities. Little did they know the seeds of starting a Foodbank in their church had already been sown.

During that time Hertford URC were reflecting on the mission life of their Church. With the cuts in government policy from the department of Work and Pensions, a few other people in the congregation had begun to wonder about having a Foodbank. After much discussion and further information and support from Broxbourne Foodbank (opened and run by members of the local churches in the Borough of Broxbourne) Hertford URC made the decision to embark on a new challenge to open a Foodbank for their local community. As a Church they felt they could spearhead the Project but knew they would need the help and support of others to sustain the Project.  The idea was shared with Churches Together in Hertford and received much interest.  However, the question which they could come to hear on more than one occasion was,

"Is there really a need for a Foodbank here, in Hertford?"

The answer was and is YES!


Altogether there are 50/60 volunteers on the rota. These consist of mainly retired people from Hertford URC and the surrounding Churches; community groups; and individuals from a Christian and non- Christian background. Sometimes local agencies refer people to volunteer for the Foodbank to gain experience of those in need e.g. Police; Waterways Chaplin.

The Foodbank is open 5 days a week between the hours of 4-5pm. 5 volunteers are on site each day. Their roles include, welcoming the clients; checking their vouchers and helping them compile a shopping list; packing and distribution. There is always an opportunity to have a cuppa and a chat with one of the volunteers too.

During this time advice and information can be offered to clients to contact other agencies or organisations that might be able to help their situation: the CAB is present one day a week. Sometimes people have asked for prayer.

The Foodbank has now received Charitable Status.

Training for the volunteers

Training is seen as an important part of their development in the work. Initially this was provided by the Area Development Manager of the Trussell Trust but is now undertaken in-house with constant updates and advice from their Headquarters. Volunteers receive training at the beginning of their service.

There are on-going training sessions suggested by Liz, who sends emails around about training initiatives for the volunteers. She is the person who looks after the volunteers and gives support, ensuring that no volunteer ever feels isolated. Volunteers meet 3 or 4 times a year (at lunch times) to have some in-house training on issues that arise as well as give general support and opportunity for them to ask questions about the Foodbank. For example, having a representative from the Drugs Project to help them relate to people with drugs problems who may use the food bank. The training included the issue of fear to help volunteers deal with thisand included learning more about the different therapies people with addictions can access (reflexology being one). They have also had 3 sessions run by the Samaritans on listening skills.


A volunteer sorting / packing food

A Volunteer sorting packing food items

Relationships between the Project and the Church

One of the manager volunteers, Frances, explained how the URC had been happy to provide the premises free; to put aside one of their church rooms as a stock room for the food; extend welcome and hospitality to clients and took pride in this project being a Christian based initiative. Recently, the foodbank have been able to pay a little towards the church costs.

At first comments could be heard in the congregation that these people coming for food were scroungers. Gradually as the congregation learnt more about the conditions and situations that brought people to this food bank, attitudes changed. Now the congregation is proud to own this project and has been positively educated by it.

In church on Sundays there is a wheelbarrow. When people come to worship they are encouraged to put items of food in the wheelbarrow if they wish to. Other churches involved in this project do the same. These items are then added to the stock room.

Where Does The Food Come From?

All of the food comes from the generosity of local people.  Food is bought to Hertford URC from local Churches as well as their own. A wheelbarrow sits at the back of the sanctuary where members deposit their donations. They also operate collection points in Waitrose and Tesco. Everything is accepted (I was surprised to see cat and dog food), as long as the goods contain no alcohol and are not perishable.

Approximately £100 everymonth is spent on 'special items'. This might include goods that are in short supply of e.g. nappies and Self Heating Meals specifically for the homeless.


What Type Of People Use The Foodbank?

  • Unemployed
  • Drug/alcohol dependant
  • Employed people on low wages or zero hours contracts
  • HouseboatBoat people
  • People on sanctions from benefits
  • People made redundant and waiting for benefit payments
  • A few from Eastern European countries


Stock room

Stock room


Drawing on the Good Will of the people

Sometimes it is difficult to collect the weight of food (could be up to 1 ton) from the supermarket. Everything has to be handled and moved from shop to car and from car to church. For the first year a local Rotary Club member helped to organise and assist with these collections.  as well as church members. These practical tasks have also helped to widen the outlook of the church fellowship and to broaden their understanding. It has also enabled them to acknowledge that people of other faiths or of no expressed faith can have understanding and compassion for this food bank project and are happy to give their support in different ways.


M. The food bank is a real joy to work with

B.   The elders feel real ownership and the church has found new energy through working with the foodbank

F. We asked the question,’ what can we do as an ageing membership?’ The congregation is now right behind it and it has brought new life experience to us.

T. We had a few organisational difficulties when setting up at first. For example it was difficult to manage the food stocks but we now have a member of our church who has volunteered to do the stock taking and the weighing of food

F. We need to pay a subscription to the Trussell Trust but finance is not a problem

       M. The majority of clients show appreciation of the food

             bank and we have only ever known one or two people                    

     in over a year who have tried to abuse the system, but

    through our training we are now in a better position to

    know how to deal with such a situation if it should


      F. This whole project is undergirded with PRAYER


Benefits to Hertford URC

It was evident from our visit that the members of Hertford URC were very proud and passionate about what they had achieved with the Foodbank so far. Volunteers talked about the change in their attitudes towards the people they were helping and the surprise at the range of people that needed this type of support in their local community.

A few years previous this Church would have defined themselves as an “ageing congregation”, however the Foodbank has given them a new lease of life; it has become their mission in action!


Key Developments

  • The enthusiastic volunteers explained how the project had evolved gradually with different stepping stones along the way. Recently the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) had come on board and attended some of the Food Bank sessions. More volunteers from other churches had got involved compared with when they first started. Also clients are helping out one another more, with exchange and explanation about information.
  • In the future we aim to do more to help clients with their shopping loads. This would be carried out by taking shopping loads to clients’ homes by car. We also have a vision of being able to restore and develop a redundant building at the back of the church, which could be used for informal educational sessions/classes to enable some people to make simple and nutritious economic meals and try them out here.
  • Support given by the Trussell Trust
  • Former users of the Foodbank returning to volunteer their help around the church e.g. gardening
  • Former users of the Foodbank donating food items

Relationships have been strengthened between the local Churches as Christians work on this outreach together. It is also a good witness to the 45 Agencies we work with.


Sandra Ackroyd and Lorraine Downer-Mattis

July 2015