The Salvation Army is taking a new holistic approach to helping those in need in Ashburton and has brought all of its services under one roof.
The community foodbank has recently shifted from the Family Store on Cass Street and into the main Salvation Army complex further down the road.
The move allows the Family Store to expand, and brings the foodbank into a hub that includes social services like counselling and budgeting, and also the driver mentoring programme.
The community foodbank has been renamed the Ashburton Community Ministries People’s Pantry and instead of handing out food parcels, a new approach will see clients given shopping credits and the chance to choose the items they want.
Ashburton Salvation Army manager Major Mike Allwright said the new hub operated through a holistic model that supported physical, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing.
It was easy to give out a food parcel, he said, but it took time to build relationships and to help people on a new path of improved wellbeing.
“The Salvation Army wants to make a difference and this is a long term approach that we know can help.”
He said letting people choose their own food items empowered them and combined with advice and support on savvy shopping, basic menus and budgeting, was proven to work.
If people kept coming back it showed they needed more than just food support.
“Visiting for the first or second time shows people need some help, but by the third visit it is becoming clear that something bigger is going on.
“By the fourth visit it is time to engage and to do more, he said.
He said the holistic approach worked at other Salvation Army sites and now was the right time for Ashburton. People also needed to take their own responsibility and to accept the need for help and change.
The new People’s Pantry will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings only.
The new one-stop shop for services will mark the end of an era for Mr Allwright and long-time community ministries co-ordinator Judith Beaumont, who are both retiring from the Salvation Army.
Mr Allwright has clocked up 32 years with the organisation, the last three in Ashburton, and finishes at the end of the year. Mrs Beaumont, who finishes up tomorrow after 15 years, has been synonymous with the foodbank.
Mr Allwright said the pair were leaving a good team in Ashburton and new people coming in would ensure the Salvation Army continued to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
-By Mick Jensen