Maidenhead Foodshare launches 'Good Neighbour' project

A new project has been launched by Maidenhead Foodshare after an elderly woman called her visits to the foodbank ‘the highlight of her week’.

The Good Neighbour project aims to connect elderly people in the community with the foodbank through a ‘good neighbour’.

It came about after a woman, who was using the Foodshare following a stay in hospital, continued to go there on a Saturday morning despite no longer needing the food.

Maidenhead Foodshare trustee Lester Tanner said: “She just wanted some company.

“She would come in for a cup of tea and a chat and she said it was the highlight of her week.

“A lot of people are looking for company often as much as food, because when you’re in need of food support, you’re often in a little bit of social isolation to some extent as well.”

Lester explained that it is not uncommon for elderly people to skip meals or cut back on food when they encounter an unexpected expense.

Although they would benefit from using Foodshare on those occasions, many are reluctant.

He said: “Not many of them will use a foodbank, partly because they don’t like to accept charity and then there are also maybe some challenges with the accessibility of getting to the foodbank.”

It is hoped that by coming to Foodshare the elderly will have access to additional food supplies they might need and volunteers can remove the barrier of transport by picking them up and taking them there.

The project operates when the foodbank is not open to everybody else so the good neighbour project can have a ‘private shop’ followed by ‘tea and coffee and conversation’.

He said: “It’s proved to be a really good formula.”

Lesley Saunders is a good neighbour and has formed a group who meet at Foodshare once a month on a Friday, which includes pensioner Iris Bye.

Iris said: “Elderly people think it’s charity, and they’re dead against charity because they’ve been brought up like that.

“Really they could do with being told it’s not like that.”

Lester would like to form other groups. He said: “The challenge now is just to find a few more people like Lesley who act as that good neighbour.”

To find out more about the Good neighbour project email Debbie@Foodshare.today or Lester@Foodshare.today

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