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'Clients have told us how relieved they felt to be able to feed their children'

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Former ICU nurse Andrea Badman set up a programme at her local church to make sure people have enough to eat throughout the year

Andrea Badman

“As a church we became acutely aware of people being hungry all year round and not just at Christmas,” recalls Andrea Badman. Deciding to do something about it, she set up a foodbank. It “started out on a small scale of about two or three agencies and soon became unmanageable due to the amount of people that were ringing up,” she adds.

At the time Ms Badman was working part time as a nurse in the intensive care unit at Bedford Hospital and didn’t have enough time to run the service on her own. While looking for support, she spoke with some of the other members of the church, including her good friend Sarah Broughton. Together and with the help of Trussell Trust, a charity whose mission is to help a local community’s less-fortunate population, they established Bedford Foodbank in October 2011.

“We thought there were churches doing similar things and there were probably people in Bedford who were hungry, so we had a chat with the Trussell Trust about partnering to start a foodbank,” she explains.

Bedford Foodbank collects food from the public at collection points around the city and via supermarkets.

“When we’ve done supermarket collections people have been really generous,” Ms Badman explains. The food then goes to volunteers in a warehouse, who sort it; it is then stored until care professionals identify people who could benefit from the service. Those clients are given a voucher, which they take to the foodbank distribution centre to receive their pre-made packages.

Despite starting out on just two days a week, the service now runs five days a week to various parts of Bedford. The packages given out provide enough food for around three days and, on average, 500-600 people are helped each month.

“As a church we became acutely aware of people being hungry all year round and not just at Christmas”

Ms Badman has noticed a positive reaction from the community and feels grateful to the generosity of all their supporters. “Clients have told us how relieved they felt to be able to feed their children,” she says. “Most of them tell us they felt that somebody cares for them. For example, a head teacher rang us to tell us about a mum who couldn’t get food for her children - we sorted out a parcel and it was supplied to the mum that day.”

Two years ago, Ms Badman decided to take a break from nursing to focus on the foodbank collection service. But it requires a team effort from the community, the volunteers and the agencies. According to Ms Badman, the process of collection, training and distribution wouldn’t be possible without the help of a generous general public. In total there are approximately 80 people on the team.

“The team is lovely, a real blessing to us,” she says but the service is “always after volunteers.”

Ms Badman’s family has been very supportive as well. Her husband helps run the foodbank’s social media and her teenage children and parents help with the various supermarket collections held once every three months. The items they take include cup-a-soups, tinned spaghetti hoops, squash and bags of rice - donations that are guided by the “shopping list” on Bedford Foodbank’s website.

As a sign of her dedication and the respect she has earned, Ms Badman was recently nominated by a volunteer for the ‘Deserve a Break’ contest. Sponsored by Cottage Holidays, it recognises exceptional and hard-working people who “deserve a break” in one of its luxury cottages.

Appreciative of the nomination, she feels however that she shouldn’t be the only one put forward. The service, she says, is a team effort and so everyone who is involved deserves the nomination. Still, that hasn’t stopped her from being grateful. “I’m speechless,” she says. “I was really overwhelmed, it was totally unexpected.”

Taylor Lopez

● If you are interested in volunteering with Bedford Foodbank, or finding out what’s on its “shopping list”, please visit the website:

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