Food banks – how the Trussell Trust came into being

Carol and Paddy Henderson founded The Trussell Trust network of Food Banks in 1997.

After being brought up in Mumbai and bringing up two daughters they decided to change the direction of their lives to work helping others. They had an interview with Tearfund, a global charity dedicated to ending poverty, and were offered a job in Armenia delivering dried food and oil to people whose  lives had been devastated by the fall of communism and an earthquake claiming 30,000 lives. They lived in icy conditions, sleeping on horsehair mattresses  next to survivors with empty water containers and makeshift hovels. It was seeing these poor forgotten Armenians  that led to a frustration of the limits we were allowed to give. They needed help to empower them to build better futures for themselves. The first sustainable project was giving money to an orphanage to buy pigs so they could start to produce their own meat. These funds came from sharing our stories with others in the U.K.

They then went on to Bulgaria, feeding street children who had nowhere to go outside school terms. The orphanages were closed and many ended up glue sniffing or resorting to crime to survive.

When they came back home to Salisbury their stories were picked up by the local paper and a woman called to ask why they weren’t helping those in need on their doorstep. They had no idea that children in the area were going to bed hungry because parents had to choose between food and electricity, so with the help of a legacy from her mother,  Betty Trussell ,who died in 1997, they set up the first Trussell Trust food bank from their shed, collecting food to help local families. Many had fallen into debt over basic expenses such as children’s clothing or essential household repairs.

The principles they developed then still hold firm today. That all food should be donated and volunteers enlisted to administer the food and provide non judgemental support.

They never forgot the Balkans experience and continued to help the orphanage, by the collection and delivery of thousands of lovingly wrapped Christmas boxes.

They handed the Trussell Trust over to new management in 2007 as they moved to New Zealand to be near their two daughters.

Today the Trussell Trust comprises 424 foodbanks running more than 1,200 distribution centres with the help of 40,000 trained volunteers, (as at December 2020.)

Did you know that from August 2020 to 2022 every Tesco Superstore and Tesco Extra store has a special donation point where customers are asked to donate essential Long Life food items ? Tesco has agreed to add a 20% cash donation to the Trussell Trust and FareShare charities from the value of these items, so please think of these people at this difficult time.