Ben’s journey to becoming a Trustee at Warrington Foodbank


A PASSIONATE advocate for Cheshire Community Foundation and the Warrington Fund, Ben Pennell is now a trustee of Warrington Foodbank.

Ben’s involvement with the charity began three years ago. Homeless and struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, Ben turned to the Warrington Foodbank as a lifeline in a desperate bid to find a support network. He’s now firmly back on his feet and a trustee of the foodbank – also working for the Trussell Trust.

Warrington Foodbank delivers 40,000 food parcels a year and has helped 15,000 local children in that time. It employs two full-time and four part-time members of staff, enlisting the help of 170 volunteers.

This month, the foodbank has announced the opening of two new pantries in Warrington – affordable food spaces within the community for anyone to use.

How did Warrington Foodbank help you?

“I came to Warrington in November 2021. I was homeless and receiving help from one of the local charities. I was sent to the foodbank, where they initially helped me out with food, and it all spring-boarded from there.”

“They saw me as a whole person, rather than a problem they needed to solve. They took a chance on me and had belief in me when I didn’t have belief in myself – giving me opportunities, placing trust and responsibility in me. And that perspective helped develop the relationship between myself and the foodbank and helped me get to where I am today. I needed their services and I’m delighted today to be in a position to give back.

“For me, homelessness had been a long time coming. For people I encounter through the foodbank, it’s just a case of one single missed paycheck. It’s one tragic life event, something completely out of their control that can cause their whole world to crumble.

“There simply isn’t adequate support for people who slip through the gaps, hence the need for organisations like ourselves.”

How important is Warrington Foodbank to the local community?

“I’m a passionate advocate for this type of community organisation – helping voices that wouldn’t usually get heard. They are a truly unbelievable organisation.

“Working here at the foodbank still and being a regular visitor truly keeps me grounded – I’ve always got one foot firmly planted in reality. I’m still there with all of our users, I’m just at a different stage of my journey.
“That holistic support they gave me – I learnt that’s a huge part of what we do.
“Food is really just a sticking plaster – there are so many other avenues of support they – we – can help you access and signpost.

“When I first came to the foodbank, I had my own preconceptions about them, as many people do. Now I rightfully see them as holding such a vital place within the local community – particularly here in Warrington. Our main aim is to alleviate poverty in Warrington.”

What are the two new pantries – and where will they be located?

“These are new, affordable food spaces within the community that anyone can use, located in Fearnhead Community Centre and in Latchford on Loushers Lane. We want to provide the opportunity for people to stretch their budgets further, accessing really good food whilst maintaining that independence and dignity – helping people before they hit crisis and also as a stepping stone out of food poverty.”

How important is Cheshire Community Foundation’s Warrington Fund?

“It’s a fantastic initiative that will help so many. There are so many worthwhile organisations in the town and it’s great to see a dedicated pot of money for those ventures. And I know that we’re lucky – if it wasn’t for those organisations falling outside of centralised services in the community, we’d be in a much worse place than we are.

“Warrington has its own unique needs, so to have something bespoke to serve those needs makes perfect sense.

“I’m optimistic but realistic about the future. Even though my job is with a foodbank, it won’t surprise you to hear me say I don’t want foodbanks to have to exist – and I certainly don’t want to be living in a community where they are needed and normalised.

“I was shocked when I found out foodbanks weren’t anything to do with the state. The aim in the long term is that they’re not needed, which feels weird to say about the organisation that pays my wages. But that’s got to be the aim. However, short term, they’re absolutely necessary to be plugging those gaps.”



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