“A group of six of us arrived at Quod at 8.00am to help the Parents' Association and 17 stallholders set up for the Fair” explained Ella Fox-Davies (G L6), who led the GSL group of Lower Sixth Form volunteers.
“The stalls were selling all sorts of things ranging from Morrows socks to student-made Christmas hampers. The Fair was formally opened at 11am by Mr and Mrs Winkley and our generous major sponsor from Marks and Spencer, and we then had a rotation of 28 students helping out until 4pm. There were mince pies and mulled wine being served all day, which we also took out onto the football pitches for those watching the ISFA national football trials taking place during the afternoon.”
Karen Williams, Foodbank Plus Project Lead, was thrilled with the day: “After much preparation from a small team, the Christmas Fair proved to be an outstanding success for all concerned. The stallholders all want to come back, the guests had a wonderful time, particularly pleased with the local connection of the stallholders and the intimacy of the event, and the students rose to the challenge under the superb direction of Ella Fox-Davies.
“I have to say thank you to all concerned for their considerable work and massive contribution. The £2,500 raised will have an incredible impact at Foodbank Plus. But the Fair is not just about how much we raised. It's much more about a local community charity working with and for the community of Shropshire. And this was epitomised in this first-ever Christmas Fair for both Shrewsbury School and Foodbank PLUS. Local stallholders, local products, local connections – a local school working directly with a local charity working directly with the local community. Let's start preparing for next year!”
As Karen Williams explains, Shrewsbury Foodbank Plus is a lifeline for many of the most vulnerable people in the local community:
Shrewsbury Foodbank is believed to be the third oldest in the country, opening in 1997 (well before the current pupils at Shrewsbury School were even born!). Foodbank PLUS in Shrewsbury is different, though. Providing a unique range of services, it offers a holistic approach that helps people for the long term.
Through Barnabas Money Advice, debt advice and advocacy is offered. And through the unique 360 Platform for Life programme, the clients are able to see transformation in their lives:
- The 360 Journey to Work Lifeskills course helps those furthest from the job market into paid employment. Currently 75% of clients gained paid work from the last course.
- The Wednesday Breakfast Drop-In supports people with digital inclusion, form-filling and general support that they often can't find elsewhere.
- 360 Budgeting is also offered to help people learn the skill of budgeting and money management.
- 360 Cookery teaches people how to cook basic, nutritious food on a budget, that culminates with a meal together each week.
- And 360 Back Garden helps with confidence and self-worth through the medium of basic gardening and woodwork.
The point of the 360 Platform for Life programme is not just to develop skills, though. The main emphasis is on building relationships with people and helping clients realise for themselves they have a sense of place in our community and have real value.
If anyone would like to find out more, have a look round, or find our how they could help, please get in touch with Karen Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their website is http://www.barnabascommunityprojects.org/foodbank-plus.html