5 Reasons to support a Food Bank with a Referral System in Place

After the first COVID-19 lockdown eased in June 2020, The Parish Trust CARE Project introduced a referral system for those who still needed help with food. At the time, we were asked questions as to why we would introduce a referral system, and some of those questions are still asked today. So we thought, “Why not do a blog post on it?” Here’s five reasons why you should support a food bank with a referral system…

1. It gives us accountability

Accountability is so important. Having a big collection of referral partners is key to the success of the CARE Project, as it means we know that our service users are known by others and that their situation is also known to the referrer, who act as a reference for us.

It also makes us accountable to grant funders and the general public so that they know that our statistics are not self-generated or falsified. This genuine data is then fed into our annual accounts which get sent to the Charity Commission each year.

2. It helps our service users

Having a referral system in place helps us to help our service users with other needs that they may have, such as being able to signpost them to additional support, and discovering their story as time goes on so that we can best meet their needs. This could include offering money management courses, bereavement support, or simply a chat on the phone to see what challenges someone may be facing. We often find trends that The Parish Trust is in a good position to meet, such as providing services to children and young people at a nominal fee, or even free of charge, such as Tommy’s Tots.

3. It helps us to plan, manage, and campaign

If we know how many referred service users we have at any one time, we can gauge what the demand on our food stocks will be within a three month period. This helps us to plan our campaigns, prioritising donations of food, and organising collections from suppliers. Of course, there are times where this gets tricker, such as in the recent rise in household bills which has meant more referrals in a short space of time. However, as The Parish Trust CARE Project is a member of the Independent Food Aid Network, we can feed our data to this alliance which will in turn inform the Government about poverty and how we can work to reduce it.

4. It helps to stop people abusing the system

Having a referral means that someone has gone through a process to become known. Whilst we want to be a trusting organisation, we also need to safeguard the service for those who genuinely need our help. It costs a significant amount of money, time, and resources to run the CARE Project, and we cannot afford to waste our resources, or be complicit in misdirecting them to those who don’t really need our help. Our referral system helps us to crack down on people who may abuse and take advantage of the provisions we offer. Whilst this is a very small minority of people, it is still a genuine concern of the General Public that their donations may go to people who are manipulating the system.

5. It makes tackling food poverty more efficient

Having a referral system helps us to manage and distribute food fairly. Food banks which don’t have an accountability structure or referral system in place cannot be sure that their service users aren’t “shopping around” other food banks to get even more food than others. This makes things very inefficient and unfair.

We hope this informative post has helped you to understand why we use referrals here at The Parish Trust! We want to be transparent in everything we do here, and our website & blog serve to be as helpful and informative as possible.

Having said all this, The Parish Trust is in great need of assistance if we are to continue delivering our services which cover an area of over 50,000 people. Could you spare an hour or two each week and volunteer with us? Or, if that’s not possible, could you spare just £5 a month and join our Feed a Fiver campaign? Feed a Fiver has the ambitious aim of getting 2,500 people (5% of our service area) to donate £5 a month to our work so that we can safeguard the provision and grow for the future. We’d really be grateful if you could join the 5%. Once again, thank you for your continued support!

Please note that in order to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and to enjoy the Easter Holidays, The Parish Trust will be closed from Thursday 28th March 2024 and will reopen on Monday 8th April 2024. We wish all our stakeholders and beneficiaries a Happy Easter.

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