Bethlehem House of Bread is a shining example of generosity and selflessness, with people across all ages in a community coming together to help their neighbours. Based at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church in the town centre of Cumbernauld, BHoB serves as a food bank, clothes bank and soup kitchen, open and welcoming to anyone who could benefit. The JMA Trust have been proud to award this small charity with our Easter Donations in both 2016 and 2017, giving a total of £3000 to assist with their weekly offerings. Last year, the JMA team went out to Cumbernauld to visit and hear more about what they provide, and meet more of their amazing volunteers.
We were welcomed by Norma, who, along with her husband Joe, oversees the running of BHoB. They established the foodbank in 2011, after recognising that many members of their community, particularly families with children, would benefit from its support. After starting as a small project, they grew quickly, with word spreading around the town, bringing more and more people to access their service. In 2012, another local couple, Alethea and David, came to the foodbank with a small amount of clothes and shoes to give away. This generous act led to a permanent extension of the foodbank, as the team recognised this as a further need in the community, and a new clothes and textiles bank was added into the space.
In 2013, members of Craighalbert Church offered to provide cooked food for those attending the food bank in the evenings. By sourcing food, using the church kitchen to prepare and cook, and serving these meals, this team have really enhanced the welcoming nature of the foodbank. The individuals who benefit from the service are incredibly diverse in their backgrounds, and this opportunity to sit down to enjoy a meal all together, in one shared space, is amazing.
As Norma showed us around each of the different ‘areas’ of the foodbank, introducing us to the volunteers and telling us about how they became involved, it was heartwarming to see so many give up their time to put effort into helping others. A younger group of girls from the local area were spending their evening after school in charge of a small toiletries station, where they had everything organised, from shampoos and soaps to nappies and other essential products, items that so many of us may take for granted on a daily basis.
Norma explained that Bethlehem House of Bread is able to do its incredible work thanks to so many others help, including partnerships with many other churches in the area, volunteers from all walks of life, and donations, both of food and money, from a number of different sources. Members of the community and local churches will deliver non-perishables when possible, and they use their other funding, such as the JMA award, to purchase essentials like milk and bread, and top up when stocks are low for their usual food packages. Some of their volunteers have even held events locally to fundraise. David and Alethea told us about a music night they held in a local pub, with bands playing and everyone coming together to enjoy themselves while giving money to this great cause. It sounded like a fantastic night!
From everyone here at The JMA, we’d like to say a huge thankyou to Norma, Joe, and your entire team of volunteers at Bethlehem House of Bread. Your work is a perfect illustration of how we can care for others, and your welcoming, considerate and kind approach to the service every single week will be a blessing to so many of those you come across.