A WELLINGTON church is looking at setting up a second ‘food bank’ in the town to cope with the numbers of people who need help with meals during the cost of living crisis.

It follows the recent 10th anniversary of Wellington Food Bank, which operates twice a week from the town’s United Reformed Church Hall and has seen record numbers using its services.

Now, Wellington Baptist Church wants to create a ‘second phase food supply’ for people who have been using its ‘warm place’ refuge, which marks its first anniversary next week.

Baptist Church Minister the Rev Sam Griffiths said he had been giving food bank vouchers to those attending the weekly warm place sessions who appeared most in need.

Demand for the vouchers dramatically increased during the summer but there was a maximum number an individual could receive from the Trussell Trust, which runs Taunton Food Bank, of which Wellington is an outreach service.

Mr Griffith said: “So, as a church, we are now looking at building a second phase food supply for those who will need this, and there are some, and there will be more, the signs are already apparent.”

He said the Thursday warm place was currently in summer mode, running from 11.30 am to 2 pm and providing lunch, but not supper as well, which happened in winter when it was open from 9.30 am to 7 pm.

Mr Griffith said the summer mode had provided some rest and stability for the weary warm place teams, because the longer winter day was ‘full on’.

Wellington Baptist Church minister the Rev Sam Griffith.
Wellington Baptist Church minister the Rev Sam Griffith. (Tindle News)

The church ran not less than nine teams working on rotas to make the project work, amounting to about 60 different people.

Mr Griffiths said: “It has been an extraordinary period, where volunteers from both church and local community have come together to make this a very worthwhile project.

“We never turn away anyone nor do we judge what we see.

“That means that we have seen all kind of folk from all kinds of backgrounds come in.

“Financially, there have been some very generous giving, both from the church and from the community, either in money or practical and tangible donations.

“In truth, we are seeing a spread of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

“A good percentage are just lonely and disconnected from friends or family.

“Yet some are distinctly economically-challenged.

“As in many parts of society, the ongoing after effects of Covid and its social and economic damage never seem to go away.

“The same people come each week, and then each week there are additions.

A Christmas meal being enjoyed in Wellington Baptist Church warm place.
A Christmas meal being enjoyed in Wellington Baptist Church warm place. (Wellington Baptist Church)

“We are serving between 35 and 45 meals each week in summer mode. That number is increasing almost by the week.”

Mr Griffith said for each session the church had a basket of ‘essentials’ which from which people could choose one item, such as deodorant, body wash, soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, and the basket was emptied every week.

He said it thrilled the heart to see relationship building by the church teams with those who attended the warm place, a big part of which had been the provision of activities from basic colouring to occasional crafts.

Some people had clearly never had such opportunities and were finding them therapeutic and helpful to their mental health.

Mr Griffith thanked everybody who had helped to make the warm place happen

“I am in awe and humbled at how much has been achieved,” he said. “The immensity of what we are doing is at times exhausting to contemplate.

“Even if we wanted to stop the warm place now, and we do not, I do not think we could, it is too popular and it is well used.”