2 November 2021
In the centre of Loughborough is a building bustling with activity, full of people going out of their way to support the community, home to King’s Church and its charitable trust, a nursery, the Schofield Family Centre, and a huge range of other local services.
What began as the King’s Church ‘Oppor-tin-ity’ scheme, where church-goers provided tins to help families in crisis, has grown in scale. Since the pandemic, food provision has become a key service and The Schofield Family Centre has delivered food into communities throughout the crisis along with the recent addition of a pantry called ‘the Cupboard on the Corner’.
Karen Long, a family outreach worker who led on expanding the food services, said: “People are feeling the pinch. We started off helping four families with food in summer 2020, when Marcus Rashford drew attention to how broad the issue was. A couple of schools contacted us and forwarded our contact details on to families that could benefit.”
“Since opening the pantry in April, we now have nearly 40 members. People donate £3.50 to use the pantry but get about £15 worth of food. It’s a lot more empowering to come in and choose what they want. We get referrals from the nursery and local schools and support single parents from the playgroup. Older people living alone are coming too. People have cried when they come in. It’s relief. They are very grateful for what we do.”
The group receives regular food from FareShare which has gone into food parcels delivered locally through lockdown and provided the centre with more options for the pantry shelves, including fresh and chilled food.
Karen adds: “Some of the people using the pantry can’t believe that this food would have been wasted. We’ve had punnets of strawberries from FareShare that have gone down really well. There’s been more socialising since we opened the pantry too.”
While the need for food remains high, ‘the Cupboard on the Corner’ is here to stay. Sights are also set on expanding into the basement to create a social space with a cafe and a ‘swap not shop’ clothes initiative, as well as providing debt counselling for those struggling with finances.