Sheffield Food Banks
Jayne & Robert Franklin - Sheffield, UK
We know that many of us across TOM have been serving on the front line helping those in need, reaching out to neighbours and hopefully being blessed by others too!
Whilst we have been busy with foodbank provision in Sheffield, we have been blown away by our Muslim neighbours. Should not be a surprise really! They have frequently brought us meals, shopped for us and planted flowers and herbs in our garden, so precious! Declaring that it is not them blessing us but God.
Other news from us is that Jayne has, alongside an amazing team of volunteers and staff, been helping to run 8 Food Banks across the city of Sheffield – some are new ventures and some we have needed to take over leadership of as partner churches were struggling to cope due to the Covid 19 crisis. Distributing food to over 300 households each week (that’s over 700 people and almost a third of the food bank clients in Sheffield).
It has been a busy but extremely fulfilling time as we have been able to meet, together with others, the increased need in our city for food, by those who are in financial crisis. We have seen partnerships develop we other churches and organisations that we never really thought possible leading to increased unity across our city.
Rob has spent a few mornings every other week on the Foodbank Helpline. It is sad and humbling to hear some of the stories. We offer prayer at our foodbank and phone line; place cards in the parcels with words of encouragement and that remind people there is a helpline to phone if they need help with debt or benefits advice or prayer!
We have been so inspired by Mark and Anna Burgess in Lima, Peru. Today we heard of people returning to faith and reading the Bible and others getting to know Jesus for the first time. We would love to see that breakthrough here!!
As lockdown restrictions begin to loosen, we can talk with people more and pray for some. We are getting to know people through the phoneline and when they collect their food parcels and we are beginning to consider how we can meet as smaller groups of people as the lockdown eases more.
We met last week with some of the men who come to our house for family tea. It was one of their birthdays and to be honest the normal run of chaos and challenges were evident in his life; he has spent the last 3 birthdays on his own at home sleeping because he had nothing else to do. Well we were not having that again!!!So we arranged to take him a birthday picnic and eat it with him. He could not stop smiling!!! I will be honest – it was hard work, we were tired, and just wanted to have a quiet simple evening but his smile was totally worth it.
We were once again faced with the reality of people’s lives – poverty sucks! We have no idea really of what people go through. There is lots in the press about the hardships that are coming, and these will disproportionally effect and already are, those who are already poor. Foodbanks in Sheffield, in any city, in any nation are standing in the gap. It can be challenging, it can be distressing when you hear stories of people having no food and going to bed hungry, but this is where we are meant to be as the family of God. Still believing and trusting that those who are despairing, heartbroken, trapped by poverty or their mental health will one day become the great oaks that rebuild the cities and desolate places (Isaiah 61).
Jayne and Rob would love to hear from you! They want to hear your stories and inspiration of how you have served on the margins during this time and how you shared the gospel, pointed people to Christ and begun a discipleship journey with them.
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