Southend Vineyard is a Christian Church affiliated to @VCUKI, seeking to ‘Reach out ♡ Change Lives’ in our community of Southend on Sea. We have been involved in serving our community since we began the church here in Southend in 1992.
We would collect groceries from the people in church and distribute them during our Sunday morning services. We soon recognised a need to have a facility where we could offer hospitality to those who received a food parcel so that we could spend time with them and show the love that Jesus has for each person, rich or poor. Being trapped in food poverty is an isolating and lonely experience, particularly as we watch the world around us change… It makes us feel like we are being left behind.
We then rented a shop unit in Westcliff, where we would host a community cafe and distribute food bags collected from Sunday’s services. We realised that we had drawn together a rich variety of people who could share their experiences and help each other out with advice about benefits, landlords who were sympathetic to those with low incomes and where to find emergency support. As the church grew and moved to larger premises, the Storehouse was able to offer more services and employ staff to manage the cafe and distribution of food.
This resulted in the move to our current facilities in Coleman Street. Southend Vineyard Storehouse is run by our Project Manager, with the assistance of a team of part time staff and an army of volunteers, who seek to fill the Storehouse with food, open the Cafe, and serve those who come to our doorstep. In the past, we have been blessed to have received funding from the National Lottery, Southend Borough Council, HARP, YMCA and many other groups, often working in partnership with them, to grow what we do. We have established links with various agencies and charities within Southend on Sea and can help people make connections to services that they may not have initially have heard of.
We are always looking at ways to partner with people who share our vision: To support those in our society who are isolated, lonely, in food poverty and pushed to the fringes of our community, whatever the circumstances they may face.
Why we do it?
We aim to help and support people within our community: as a church, we want to be obedient to Jesus and follow in his footsteps.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says,
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me.” Matthew 25, 35 – 36 …and we are just trying to follow in his footsteps.
We believe that Jesus calls each of us to stand alongside the people in our communities and be in relationship with them… to offer a listening ear and to assist in signposting people to the services that are available in Southend on Sea.
We have developed relationships with various retailers and supermarkets to collect ‘use-by’ produce for redistribution to those in food poverty. To do this, we partner with Ocado, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Makro, Booker and Greggs.
We also work alongside other groups and charities in Southend, such as HARP, Family Mosaic, Trust Links, YMCA and Southend Borough Council, who have the same ambition to see homelessness eradicated and those trapped in poverty, find some relief.
We offer a range of drop-in services to cater for specific needs, aiming to provide a discrete and safe environment for that first-contact… a suitable starting point from which we can find rest on our journey.
Vision & Growth
The Storehouse has grown significantly since our move to Coleman Street in January 2009. Our food distribution has more than trebled. We started the Storehouse with 250 registered users in 2008, which has increased to 4750 registered users in 2018. On average, 500 food bags are given out every week by a growing team of volunteers, many of whom come from within the client base. Due to the recent changes to benefit with Universal Credit, we have already seen a 28% increase in numbers in January and February alone.
Southend Vineyard is a Christian Church, a charitable company listed by guarantee in England and Wales, Company No: 3060009. Charity No: 1047393. ‘Vineyard’ is a collective mark of ‘Vineyard Churches’ @VCUKI