Since he started his foodbank, Steve Barton BEM, honoured in 2019 for his amazing community work has relied on the generous donations of Tamesiders. The foodbank, located alongside Stalybridge Labour Club in a repurposed metal container, is constantly in need of supplies due to the incredible demand. We asked Steve how it all began helping those in need.

“It started around 10 years ago when I was doing gardening work and found quite a few people short of essentials. So, I started doing bits of shopping for them, initially for older people and then younger ones in need. As demand increased, I thought it would be a good idea to ask people for donations because I couldn’t afford to buy it all myself. I also helped the homeless when I was at university after seeing people freezing on the streets, struggling to accept I was nice and warm at night and people were cold sleeping outside.”

So that’s how the foodbank idea started?

“Yes, I had always had a crazy idea to get a container somewhere and give people a chance to come here without having to go to schools and get pink tickets. If people see you going for these tickets it can be a bit embarrassing or humiliating for some and they don’t like the regimented way it is done.  Here it is very easy going – you get it free or pay £4 for delivery but we also advise people on getting support for mental health or domestic abuse etc if they have no idea what to do. I get to know a lot of the people I support and try to understand why they are using a foodbank and ways to make them more self dependent. Where we are located is also quite discreet and private which people like, they don’t carry any stigma from coming getting food from here.”

You are obviously fulfilling a need?

“Oh yes its’s much worse than when we had the pandemic, demand has increased by 80%. Today as we speak, I’ve done 45 food parcels which is more than we did in a week when we first opened. The main issue here is its cold, and it did make me ill last year, so the ideal is to find a more permanent base somewhere to offer this service from.”

So, if anyone can help maybe with a venue or to give a donation how can they get in contact?

“They can find the Barty’s Foodbank page on Facebook, my contact details are on there or they can come down here and see me in Stalybridge. For donations even if its just one tin I’m grateful for any help they can give. Things like juice, pasta, tinned fruit, tinned potatoes will all be useful.”

Steve recieves a donation from Hyde Fundraisers Melanie Broughton

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for the support you receive?

“Yes, the people of Tameside, they are amazing, Morrisons have helped but Matt here at Tesco’s Stalybridge has gone to a new level to help. I have a donation point in there which really helps things tick over but I would appreciate any other help. I have a goal and its all about helping children and that’s important, isn’t it?”

Barty’s Foodbank is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 9am until 12noon but Steve himself is accessible most days if you message on Facebook if you need help.

Hyde Fundraisers stepped up with a donation of £150 in TESCO vouchers to support Steve in his work and last month he benefitted from foodbank collections done by Ashton Town Team. To echo Steve’s point that all donations matter perhaps the catchphrase of one of his supporters is quite apt – every little helps!