Margate Independent Foodbank (MiFoodbank) was established in June 2020 in response to the overwhelming need for free food parcels during the pandemic.
We provided both a collection and delivery service, and at the height of the pandemic we were assisting over 400 families a week.
Some months in, we started an outreach service to help us understand why so many families needed a food parcel, and realised that many people were dealing with unaffordable rents that are totally out of step with benefits housing provision.
We discovered that many people had accumulated debts with bills and that fuel poverty is an escalating and very present problem. Not only were many of our clients unable to switch on their heating during winter, they were even worried about boiling a kettle.
Much of our outreach work now focusses on dealing with fuel poverty and maximising income through the benefits system, but we realise that this is not enough to bring people out of the circumstances they are often trapped in.
Margate Mushrooms aims to create micro-businesses that can grow to small businesses that then reduces the need for relying on benefits.
We have also now established a community shop called MiCommunity, at 6 Duke Street, Margate, where we sell food, toiletries and cleaning products at low prices for those on low incomes. This has proved very popular as it allows people to access help with food in a dignified way, and allows for personal choice.