“Because people come to the pantry every week you can build a relationship with them. Coming to the Pantry is often just the beginning of the support we offer” says Jo Dolby of Oasis Hub Bath.
Oasis Hub Bath is a church and community charity and is open to all who need support. Currently they support around 400 people per week through their two food pantries. The also run a community café alongside each pantry, where members can have a hot drink and a snack, as well as accessing signposting and advice sessions with other local organisations.
The food Jo and her team get from FareShare South West allows them to offer variety and nutrition to those they work with: “The food from FareShare South West varies from week to week. Fresh fruit and veg always goes down well with families, it’s often things that are hard to afford so it makes it easier to provide their children with fruit and veg.”
Reaching out to people when they need it most
Like so many charities, Oasis Hub Bath have seen the level of need increase with the cost of living crisis:
“The cost of living crisis is affecting every single one of our members,” explains Jo. “There are a lot of people joining for the first time. We’ve also seen people who had used our pantry previously and moved on now needing to come back. They were just managing and now they’re not. In addition to that we’ve had an intake of Ukrainian refugees, who are struggling to provide for themselves and also face language and culture barriers.”
“Things will be really hard over Christmas,” says Jo. “For the first time we’ve had to introduce a waiting list. We know that as temperatures drop things will get harder for people who are already struggling.”
Using food to fuel community
“Providing food really makes a difference,” says Jo. “It helps stretch peoples’ income. Beyond just the practical need, it helps us create a community. People who come here know that they’re not alone, they can feel safe and know that someone cares about them.”
The food Jo and her team get from FareShare South West helps them provide variety and nutrition to those they work with: “The food from FareShare South West varies from week to week. Fresh fruit and veg always goes down well with families, it’s often things that are hard to afford so it makes it easier to provide their children with fruit and veg.”
As Jo explains, the knock-on effects of providing food help Oasis support people with other wraparound care services: “It helps us reach people who need additional support and signpost them to other organisations. One of the most satisfying things is watching people build friendships.”
Still, it is clear that charities like Oasis Hub Bath need all the support they can get as demand continues to rise: “It’s very challenging to supply enough food to keep up with the demand. The food from FareShare South West helps but we worry about being able to continue to provide enough variety and quality for all our members.”