Steve drops in on Local Foodbank

Steve McCabe went to meet staff and volunteers at Sparkhill Foodbank.


Liisa Wiseman manages the Foodbank which has been operational for about 5 months and deals with people who are destitute or in crisis in South Birmingham. This can often involve a range of people who have experienced a major crisis in their lives, including victims of domestic violence.


The charity Narthex first started to spot the emergence of hunger as a basic issue in South Birmingham about three years ago and so set about establishing the Foodbank. Some estimates suggest there may now be 13 million people living in poverty in this country and its estimated that over the past 12 months about 130,000 people have been assisted by Foodbanks.


Narthex raise almost all their food from donations from the public and have a local distribution centre. People are referred via local professional care workers, local charities, Job Centres, places of faith and schools. They are also working to involve GPs and Health Visitors.


The Foodbank has a 5 year grant from the Lottery to setup and run the Foodbank, as well as cover the salary for Liisa and her support worker Gareth Duffield. The Foodbank relies on volunteers for help with the collection and distribution of food.


The foodbank are currently assisting between 15 & 20 individuals and families per week but expect this figure to double shortly and find it hard to estimate just how much demand might grow.


As well as collecting from members of the public outside supermarkets, they also receive food donations from schools, colleges, children’s centres, places of faith including members of St John's congregation.


Steve McCabe said:

“I was touched by the generosity of the public and the hard work of Liisa, Gareth and the volunteers on what was a particularly cold Saturday morning. It is quite shocking to think that in 21st century Britain there is such a demand for this kind of charity and that the team are regularly coming across people who may not have eaten for three or four days. 

I strongly welcome what Narthex is doing and urge people to donate and assist in any way they can.”



Narthex is a Greek term which means the portico or lobby of a church and is the chosen name of the charity because it represents the interface between St John's and the general community. Although St John's is an Anglican church the charity helps people of all faiths and no faith.


Narthex Foodbank are particularly keen to secure the following items:

Milk (UHT or powdered)


Fruit Juice

Soup – please remove this item (we have too many!)

Pasta Sauces

Tinned Sponge Pudding

Tinned Tomatoes


Tinned Rice Pudding

Tea bags/Instant Coffee

Instant Mash Potato


Tinned Meat/Fish

Tinned Vegetables

Tinned Fruit


Biscuits or snack bars

Cooking oil

Instant Noodles


Further details can be obtained at Sparkhill foodbank, 0121 771 0464 or Narthex Centre, St

John's Church, St Johns Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham, B11 4RG. Tel 0121 772 0909

Share this
Copyright Steve McCabe MP Click here for a copy of this site's terms and conditions and privacy statement