Gibberd Gallery help Harlow Foodbank launch local-made book – letting school children discover why people need their help.

Charity / Wed 26th Jun 2024 at 07:41am

A MONTH-long exhibition has just been launched showcasing the works of local artists for a very important local endeavour.

“When Sam tried to close the Foodbank” is a new book from Harlow’s Trussell Trust Foodbank.

Written by local author and community worker, Emma Batrick, it tells the story of a fictional Harlow girl whose Mum heads to the Foodbank in a moment of financial crisis. “Sam” is upset to see her Mum in tears and sets off on a one-girl-crusade to shut the Foodbank down. Banner in hand, Sam meets kind-hearted Janice who introduces her to other Foodbank users. The stories of those that she meets are all true-life recollections of Foodbank users recorded by author Emma in the past few years.

What unfolds is a touching glimpse of the realities behind many lives in the town. It seems that they could happen to anyone. Sam changes her mind – the Foodbank shouldn’t be shut down for upsetting her Mum – it shouldn’t be there at all, because it’s not right for anyone to go short of the basic essentials in such a well-off country.

The story is accessible and heartrending, and comes to life through the the brilliant illustrations of local artist Camilla Quinn Fitzjohn. Camilla’s artwork brings a wonderful softness to a tough subject, with recognisable images of our town. The original images for the book can be seen in the Gibberd Gallery.

Author, Emma Batrick expanded on her experience of developing the book: 

I hope that this book breaks down some of those stereotypes of why people find themselves needing to use foodbanks, and makes those who need our services’ voices that bit louder. There are four big reasons why people come: Universal Credit (wait time and rate of), a change in life circumstance, one income not being enough and debt. Each of the stories in the book are reflective of one of these issues. 

I am incredibly grateful to Janice, Sophie, Gary and Peter for trusting me with their words in the creation of this book, and it’s been a real pleasure to work with Camilla and see it brought to life in such a beautiful way. It’s a subject and a town that I wanted to be treated with care – she has brought gentleness to it, and the elements of Harlow depicted in it are wonderful. Hopefully people will think about foodbanks beyond the donation, and question what needs to change in society so that foodbanks are not needed at all.”

The new book has been sponsored by the Trussell Trust and will be given to local schools free of charge. Already schools have ordered over 450 copies. The main story is followed by activities for children to reflect on the experiences of those in Harlow, and facts and figures about the Foodbank’s use for teachers to reference.

In the past year the Foodbank has given out food to more than 10,000 individuals with more than 4,000 of these being children. Until recently, Harlow Foodbank has always been able to meet the needs of the service through public donations alone. Like many others in the country, Harlow Foodbank is now having to buy in food on top to meet demand.

The exhibition will be at the Gibberd Gallery until 18th July. Copies of the book can be picked up at the Bounty Club (in former BHS) for £5, profits to the Foodbank. 

Our picture shows, right to left, Emma Batrick (author) with Sam’s sign, Camilla Quinn Fitzjohn (centre) with illustration of Sam at the dentist, and MRCT Chair Jeanette Ehlers engrossed in the story.

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5 Comments for Gibberd Gallery help Harlow Foodbank launch local-made book – letting school children discover why people need their help.:

Yasmin Gregory - MP Candidate for Harlow Green Party
2024-06-26 10:50:02

I have a copy of the book and it is a sobering read. Thank you Emma for putting your words across in a way that our youngsters can understand and for your tireless work within the community. I look forward to seeing the exhibition at the Gibberd Gallery.

2024-06-26 11:29:23

My family and I had a period when due to health issues I was unable to work and we accumulated monetary difficulties. Having the back up referenced by Harlow advice centre we were able to use the food bank which really helped while we were sorting out our difficulties. These facilities are unfortunately necessary now for many people and really provide food for those in need it’s lovely to hear that this is promoted in story form. Well done all involved

2024-06-26 17:53:19

Trussell Trust is probably the biggest food bank facilitator in UK but like so many charities only a small proportion of their income is spent on charitable causes

2024-06-26 18:45:40

Colin, how about providing figures to support your comment. I did notice that in the YE 31/3/23 average staff salaries increased by 26.9% whereas average staff numbers increased by only 8.3%. Staff earning between £60000 and £90000 rose from 22 to 26 but no change at the number, 3, between £90000 and £110000. It manages over £1million per week.

Andy Thornton
2024-06-28 11:44:38

Colin, charities can only spend their money on charitable causes. Charity staff can only work on charitable causes. Charitable Objectives define what a charity can do. I don’t quite get your comment unless you have inferred that the Trussell Trust only exist to give food away, therefore all their money must be spent on food. Rather, their objectives are to end hunger in the UK. That can be done in two ways: by giving those who are in crisis food parcels, and by addressing the personal and structural reasons why people end up needing them. So, for example we employ a full-time financial advisor at Harlow Foodbank and they are funded by the Trussell Trust. In this last year we estimate that their advice and intervention has stopped around 220 people needing the Foodbank again. Andy Thornton (Chief Executive of the Michael Roberts Charitable Trust that run Harlow Foodbank).

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